PRELIMINARY SURVEY OF Macrotermes bellicosus INFESTATION ON PUBLIC UTILITY POLES IN EKOSODIN COMMUNITY, NIGERIA; IMPLICATION FOR UNINTERRUPTED ELECTRICITY SUPPLY
Termite’s infestation on wooden poles is becoming worrisome to home and business owners given the public reliance on such poles for electricity supply. Here electric poles were surveyed in Ekosodin community using visual observation of randomly tagged functional poles to evaluate the extent of infestation and the functional state of the poles relative to the infestation, alongside the economic cost of replacing the damaged poles in three predetermined areas (zones) within the community, based on the scale of human development. A total of 164 poles were surveyed, 26.8% (44) of which were concrete poles. The survey showed that the infested wooden poles outnumbered the ‘unaffected’ ones as more than two-third of the 120 wooden poles surveyed were infested as opposed to the uninfested ones (30.83%). The termite implicated for this impact was Macrotermes bellicosus Smeathman (Blattodea: Termitidae) and its impact visibly eroded the base and structural strength of affected poles, thus contributing to the tilting (53%) of the infested poles, which are load-bearing poles in dire need of replacement. Replacement cost for the affected poles within the community was estimated alongside the cost of pre-installation treatments of wooden poles, and the use of concrete poles -though more expensive than wooden poles- which could mitigate termites’ impacts on the utility poles were recommended. Frequent replacement with untreated wooden poles may heighten the pressure on our natural resources through lumbering for pole production; besides the attendant threats and dangers of pole wreckage on people, homes and other facilities such as electricity transformers.
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