The new pilot National Emergency Call Centre in Awka has now commenced full operations with a round-the-clock 24hour daily services. Two such centres-Awka and Minna have been approved as pilot centres to take calls for the Southern and Northern zones in the country.
The Southern zone centre at Awka which has now commenced operations is to take emergency calls to/from the South-East, South-South and South-West zones. While the northern zone centre at Minna takes calls to/from North-Central, North-East and North-West geopolitical zones.
To facilitate the effectiveness of the programme, the National Communications Commission (NCC) where the centre was domiciled has handed out no fewer than two hundred and fourteen (214) specialized desktop/handheld handsets with dedicated emergency toll-free lines to some agencies and stakeholders.
The stakeholders that included mostly security agencies included the Police, Federal Road Safety Commission, Ambulance Units, Fire Service stations, state Emergency management units, and others.
Ahead yesterday’s take-off, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communications who was represented by Engr Joe Emesheli and a team from the Ministry had earlier inspected the facilities for the take-off.
Emesheli told journalists and other stakeholders who toured the communications systems at the Awka Call Centre that the project was one of the interventions of the NCC as part of President Goodluck Jonathan’s life-enhancing agenda/services for Nigerians.
Giving out the handsets to the cooperating agencies yesterday, Mr Mike Onyia, a Commissioner at the NCC who was led by Chief Okechukwu Itanyi, the Executive Commissioner, flanked by other top officials of the commission stated that all the telephone lines were under strict tracking code and should not be used for any other purpose other than emergencies.
He explained that the toll-free emergency line 112 should be made use of by all citizens at all times of real emergencies. The calls, he disclosed would be received by the centre and passed on to whichever of the emergency response agency/ies it applies to for necessary actions on a 24-hour basis. He therefore urged especially the Police to distribute the phones to its DPOs and units especially considered high risk areas. They were to use it to receive calls from the public, call or receive calls from the Emergency Call centre.
That there is a robust interface between the commission and the stakeholders who also maintain presence in the centre; and have been given special training for the service.
Onyia said that for an effective electricity supply and performance, the centre has been hooked to the national grid, provided with generating sets, as well as inverter batteries to serve for 48 hours, as further back-up.
Mr Oluyole Abbe, a deputy Commissioner of Police who represented the Commissioner assured on behalf of other agencies that they would cooperate with NCC and the public to realise the full benefit of the programme.
Apart from the Police that received 20 desktop and 40 handheld phones, all other agencies got 10/20 each.
The call centres for each state is currently under construction and were expected to become operational within the next 12months.