03:16 AM May 11, 2017
CITY OF SAN JOSE DEL MONTE—Informal settlers have put up houses under power transmission lines and towers in 16 towns in Bulacan province, rendering the Luzon grid vulnerable to outages, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said here.
The NGCP began conducting an inventory of people living beneath the transmission towers, in light of the April 19 fire that razed shanties in Muntinlupa City that caused a transmission tower to collapse.
Roel Tobias, chief of the NGCP North Luzon transmission line unit, said communities had sprouted near power transmission facilities in the towns of San Rafael, Bustos, Sta. Maria, Pandi, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, Guiguinto, Plaridel, Pulilan, Calumpit, Bulakan and Norzagaray and the cities of San Jose del Monte, Meycauayan and Malolos.
Ronaldo Santiago, head of the NGCP District 7 North Luzon unit, said they cited the security risks when they asked settlers to leave but they were ignored.
There are 172 NGCP towers in Luzon which have been rendered vulnerable to disasters and fire and other accidents due to the communities living near these structures, he said.
The NGCP, which oversees all transmission lines in the country, intends to put up fences within a 40-meter buffer zone around these
Tobias said smoke rising from these houses could also cause transmission lines to break down and cut off the flow of electricity through the Luzon grid.
The towers also pose a threat to these communities since each facility transmits 230,000 volts of electricity.
“Houses stocked with car batteries or chemicals are also highly combustible and pose a threat to the communities,” he said.
On May 5, NGCP circulated pamphlets and signboards detailing safety requirements for people living beneath or near these towers.
It also distributed 3,000 notebooks and bags carrying the same safety messages for school children. —CARMELA REYES-ESTROPE