Muscat: Cowboy electricians were responsible for the death of six people last year, with shoddy wiring costing home owners and insurance companies millions of rials every year.
According to government hospitals' figures, four people died in 2012 when faulty wiring caused fire in four houses in the capital. Official statistics show that insurance companies paid a total of OMR12 million in 2013, 14 per cent more than the previous year.
About 70 per cent of the claims were made by private companies when their storage premises were destroyed by fire due to unprofessional electrical workmanship, according to the same statistics.
There are no statistics of the damage caused to private homes but property owner Ahmed Al Moosawi told the Times of Oman that his three-month-old house in Mabelah was gutted by faulty electrical wiring installed by an unlicensed electrician.
"What happens is that construction companies register a licensed electrician with the Muscat Electricity Distribution Company (MEDC) and he signs a piece of paper to do the wiring of your new home under construction but he does not do it himself. Instead, he hires an unqualified electrician who is not registered to do the job. This has been the practice for many years but has escaped the notice of the MEDC," Al Moosawi told the Times of Oman.
According to Electrical Engineer Ajai Srinivasan, the cowboy electricians get a few weeks' crash course from the licensed holder and are later allowed to do the wiring of the new houses.
"A license holder registered with the MEDC gets the contract for six or seven houses at the same time but does not have the time to do them all. So he finds these electricians off the street and offers them a couple of hundred rials per house to do the wiring," Srinivasan told the Times of Oman.
Most of the faults are the result of overloading or using poor quality cables. "Contractors know about it but they encourage the practice because it saves them money," Srinivasan added.
Substandard electrical fixtures are also blamed for the fire because original parts are expensive. Poor installation and wrong connectivity also contribute to poor workmanship that often leads to grave consequences.
"The MEDC needs to make sure that only licensed electricians do the wiring of the houses by carrying out random checks during the construction period to avoid unnecessary fatalities and damage to properties," Al Moosawi said.