In a bid to ensure that the toll-free three-digit National Emergency Number, 112, is being put to effective use in this critical time of Coronavirus Disease pandemic, and national objective of enhancing security of lives and properties, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, paid surprise visits to the Emergency Communications Centres in Kano and Kaduna on Monday.
Danbatta’s visits were informed by his realization that with COVID-19 spreading across the globe and more people living in isolation, the NCC’s 112 toll-free number could play a crucial role of providing effective alternatives for people to reach out to relevant agencies, with a view to securing help in times of emergency.
During his visits to the two centres, Danbatta had extensive interactions with the personnel on ground as he asked various questions bordering on the incoming call traffic volume and how the calls are effectively dispatched to various emergency response agencies connected to the centres for prompt response, especially the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
He also took his time to find out if the centres were facing any challenge that needed to be addressed for their optimum efficiencies and effectiveness towards delivering on their mandates.
The EVC urged the personnel on duty at the two ECCs to see their work as national assignments on saving the lives of fellow Nigerians in terms of emergencies.
Danbatta said: “As you all area aware, the country in on lockdown in Lagos, Ogun States and FCT, and I will therefore enjoin you to always ensure you don’t miss any call that comes into the centre.
“You will also be expected to ensure prompt dispatch of calls received to the relevant emergency response agencies so that there is no dereliction of duty that will result in loss of lives and property to our fellow Nigerians, who may even be our close relatives.”
Speaking further, the NCC boss advised the personnel to observe sanitary measures like hand washing and social distancing at the centres.
In both Kaduna and Kano centres, the managers told the EVC that they had been receiving coronavirus-related calls.
The personnel also appreciated the visit of the EVC to the centres, which they variously described as “a morale booster”, “a good regulatory oversight” and “an encouragement” for them to be more committed to their assigned roles at the emergency communications centres.
As NCC project mandated in the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003, the implementation of the ECC got a boost when Danbatta became the country’s telecoms regulator-in-chief in 2015.
Till date, 18 of the centres have been built and are operational in all 17 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
Each of the ECCs is equipped with 11 Workstations (10 for call taking and one for the Supervisor), a server system that receives and processes 112-calls from members of the public and then dispatches the calls to the appropriate Agency that has responsibility to attend to the specific emergency.
Facilities in the ECC also include power supply mix consisting of public power supply from the national grid, two units of 100KVA generators and two units of 20KVA UPS powered by 160 units of 100AH inverter batteries and a 10KVA UPS powered by 16 units of 100AH inverter batteries and six dispatch workstations for the Response Agencies.
The significance of the ECC project was underscored by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 19, 2020, when he unveiled the 112 National Emergency Number and ECC for the FCT, describing it as a project that will complement the Federal Government’s efforts in enhancing the security of lives and property in the country.
Today, states, relevant agencies of governments and individual Nigerians are making use of the 112 Number to seek help during emergencies, and more importantly at this critical time when government is working round-the-clock to curtail the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
In December last year, the NCC and Danbatta received separate awards of Corporate Social responsibility Award in Security and Emergency Management and Nigeria’s Goodwill Ambassador for Security and Emergency Management during first-ever Security and Emergency Management Awards held in Abuja by Emergency Digest in conjunction with the Centre for Crisis Communication.
The Commission also got inducted into the membership of the Forum of Spokespersons of Security and Response Agencies in February, 2020 in recognition of the critical role the ECC is playing in securing safety of lives and properties of Nigerians.