Viet Nam News
CÀ MAU – Fatal electrical accidents have been increasing at an alarming rate at shrimp ponds and crop fields in the Mekong Delta recently.
Local farmers are being blamed for the problem, due to their carelessness and unsafe use of power cables. In many cases, local residents tried to connect electricity to their fields or farms without considering technical and safety issues, leading to accidents.
In February, a farmer was killed after accidentally touching worn electrical wire near his shrimp pond in Sóc Trăng Province’s Vĩnh Châu Town.
Previously, another farmer in the same town died when fixing an engine in his shrimp pond.
These were among 25 fatal electrical accidents reported in the first nine months of this year, resulting in 25 deaths, according to the provincial branch of Electricity of Vietnam (EVN).
The number has increased rapidly compared to last year, which saw eight accidents with six deaths.
In Cà Mau Province, the key shrimp farming area of the Mekong Delta region, the number of deaths was even higher.
Figures from the provincial EVN branch revealed that 34 accidents occurred since early this year, leaving 26 people dead and eight others seriously injured.
Phú Thị Trang, a farmer in Cà Mau Province’s Lương Thế Trân Commune told the Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper that her three shrimp ponds had been abandoned since her husband, Trần Văn Mười, and her nephew, only known as Nguyện, died.
They were killed due to an electrical short circuit.
Careless power use
“Local residents use electricity very disorderly and negligently,” chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyễn Tiến Hải said when asked about the high number of electrical accidents in the province.
Most of the victims illegally connected electricity from their house to their farms, ignoring warnings that electricity was extremely powerful and could be deadly if not connected out by qualified professionals, he added.
Thiều Văn Minh, deputy director of the provincial EVN said that as many as 150 households had illegally connected electricity from their houses to their farms since early this year. Of the figure, 50 households repeated their violations twice and 10 repeated their violations three times.
The situation is similar in Đồng Tháp Province.
In April, Lê Văn Long, a farmer in Tháp Mười District’s Hưng Thạnh Commune died when connecting power to a modified mouse trap in his rice field. A day earlier, Nguyễn Văn Kiều, in Tân Kiều Commune, was killed when he touched his modified electric mouse trap.
A father and a son in Bình Thạnh Commune were also killed near their fish farm in May due to faulty electric wires that the father illegally connected from his house to the fish ponds.
In the first nine months of this year, 13 fatal accidents occurred, killing 14 people. Most of the victims were reported to have used electricity carelessly to make modified mouse traps or operate engines to supply oxygen to fish ponds.
In some rural areas where the national grid network is not connected, this method has become popular, regardless of its dangers.
In Sóc Trăng Province’s Mỹ Phước Commune, hundreds of households in the commune sent power through temporary electric poles, made of bamboo or iron sticks, to their farms.
Phạm Minh Kết, chairman of the communal People’s Committee said that illegal power connections could lead to the overload of the power supply lines, causing electric leakage and shortcuts or surges, especially during storms.
Huỳnh Minh Hải, director of the provincial Power Company said that all illegal electricity connections did not have required safety protection features. Most farmers only cared about saving money and ignored safety issues.
After a period of use, most electric wires would become worn, posing dangerous risks.
Nguyễn Tiến Hải, chairman of Cà Mau Province’s People’s Committee said that it was necessary to re-examine all shrimp farm electric wiring systems and cut violators’ power supply.
Nguyễn Văn Đô, director of the provincial Department of Trade and Commerce said the power sector and local authorities plan to revise the priority list of rural wiring construction, bringing power supply to 10,810 shrimp farming households with total investment capital of VNDD358 billion (US$15.7 million).
Of the figure, in 2018, the power sector will invest VNĐ 126 billion ($5.5 million) to build power lines to nearly 1,000 households.
Nguyễn Văn Hợp, president and CEO of Electricity of Vietnam Southern Power said the power sector, in co-operation with authorities, planned to connect the national power grid to all rural areas by 2018.
The power sector will continue to raise awareness of local residents by disseminating information about safe power usage, he added. – VNS