- Investors warn of likely blackout
After the expiration of 30-day ultimatum given by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for telecommunications companies to remove their masts blocking airways, the aviation regulatory body disclosed yesterday that it would commence demolition of the masts.
Specifically, the agency said those mostly affected are the ones belonging to Globacom Nigeria Limited sited in different locations within the country as well as others belonging to a minimum of eight banks.
Spokesman for NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, said the demolition exercise would similarly affect some banks and financial institutions that have discountenanced the authority’s regulatory requirements on the clearance to erect any high structure within the navigable airspace in Nigeria.
Apart from Globacom, he listed others as belonging to United Bank of Africa (UBA), Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), Unity Bank, Sterling Bank, among others.
Globacom has 7,012 masts slated for demolition; UBA 439 masts; GTB 295 masts, Unity Bank has 217 masts and Sterling Bank with 159 masts that are going to be pulled down.
Others are Union Bank 92 masts; First City Monument Bank 205 masts; Fidelity Bank 83 masts and Access Bank 303 masts.
In all, a total of 8,805 masts belonging to the aforementioned organisations will be decommissioned forthwith, according to NCAA.
Adurogboye further disclosed that NCAA was left with no choice as the 30-day ultimatum given to those telecommunication service providers had expired.
Prior to the expiration of the ultimatum, the NCAA spokesman said letters of reminder were written to all affected organisations to obtain Aviation Height Clearance (AHC) for their masts.
It would be recalled that NCAA had earlier warned all Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) providers and telecomm operators against violation of safety regulations. A 30-day ultimatum was, therefore, handed down for compliance.
This is derived from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (NigCARS) Part 18.104.22.168.3.1 which stipulates that ‘No person or organisation shall put up a structure (permanent or temporary) within the navigable airspace of Nigeria unless such a person or organisation is a holder of Aviation Height Clearance Certificate granted under this regulation.’
He stated that in line with this, NCAA required an AHC approval for every tower installation in the country irrespective of the height and location.
It should, therefore, be noted that under the Civil Aviation Act. 2006, section 30(3) (1), the NCAA is empowered to prohibit and regulate the installation of any structure which by virtue of its height or position is considered to endanger the safety of air navigation.
He stated that while some of the providers and operators have since commenced regularisation of their masts, others have failed to do same.
The NCAA’s decision to pull down the masts may not go without resistance as the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has warned the agency over its threat to demolish over 7,000 telecommunications masts in the country.
The Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, gave the warning recently in Lagos, saying that any site brought down illegally and without due consultation would not be rebuilt and the consequences would be felt by all.
He described the move as another way to impose unwarranted taxes on the sector, which was already overburdened with multiple taxation.
“Our association went to see the DG of NCAA about three months ago and that was to discuss the issue of AHC and we concluded on a committee to look into it.
“It sounds very strange, but also very interesting, because it speaks to the fact that our sector has become the subject of attack from agencies.
“So, to the NCAA and the public, I will say if they are going to dismantle those sites, good luck to them. As an industry, we are not going to rebuild any of these sites. So what the NCAA is doing is to throw the nation into telecom blackout.”
According to him, telecommunications remains “infrastructure of infrastructure” because other sectors, including aviation, banking, health and transport rely on information and communication technology (ICT) to drive their operations.
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