Testing has begun at two emergency call centres constructed by the Nigerian Communications Commission for the operation of emergency services in the country.
The Director of Public Affairs, NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, who confirmed this in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Monday, named the cities hosting the centres as Awka in Anambra State and Minna in Niger State.
Although the Federal Government, through the regulatory agency, plans to inaugurate emergency call centres in each of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, the two operational centres will, in the interim, serve the southern and northern parts of the country, respectively.
With the construction of the centres, it is expected that the NCC will unify all emergency and security operations in the country under a short code, 112.
This means that a person in an emergency situation can call 112 from any telephone line irrespective of the operator and his location, and be directed to the appropriate service.
It also means that when an emergency centre receives a call, it will route it to the appropriate authority nearest to where the call originated from.
Security agencies and emergency service operators, including the Police, the National Emergency Management Agency, fire services and the Federal Road Safety Corps will be hooked onto the emergency call centres.
Currently, the agencies have different telephone numbers that they advise people to call when there are emergency situations. With different numbers in operation, it becomes cumbersome for people to know the right ones to call when emergencies occur.
The operation of the call centres, however, will unify the services and also give people access to a unified short code that they can call to report a situation that requires help.
The call centre is a toll-free number and can even be reached by telephones that do not use Subscriber Identification Module cards.
Many failures in emergency services in the country have been blamed on lack of a dedicated telephone line. In the time that the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited held sway in the country, the Police had a popular emergency call code – 911.