By Emeka Aginam
THE Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and the Lagos State Government at the weekend fine-tuned fresh plans by the state to regulate masts and towers.
The commission had earlier kicked against new plans by the state to impose annual levy on all existing telecoms masts in the state, and asked the government to put a stop to the sealing and pulling down of telecoms masts in the name of regulation.
The Head, Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Department of the Commission, Maska Ubale, gave the advice in Lagos at a stakeholder’s meeting that involved the NCC, telecoms operators and the Lagos State Government, represented by the Urban Furniture Regulatory Unit (UFRU) that was mandated to regulate masts and towers in the state.
Ubale, who led the NCC team, spoke on the implications of imposing annual levy on telecoms masts and the impending danger in sealing and pulling down masts.
He said that action if not checked may lead to disruption in telecoms services, since a single Base Transceiver Station (BTS), is connected to over 30 others in various locations.
While advising that sealing and pulling down of masts should be the last resort, he said that caution must be taken to avoid regulations that will discourage core investors in the telecoms business in the country.
“UFRU should see telecoms operators as partners in business and avoid regulations that will hinder their business in the state,” Maska said, while advising the agency to return all confiscated equipment from telecoms sites to enable operators provide better service quality to Nigerians.
Earlier in his response, the General Manager of UFRU, Mr. Joe Igbokwe while thanking NCC for its intervention said dialogue and constructive engagement is the way to go since dialogue is better than monologue.
According to him, the Lagos State Government was insisting on regulating installation of masts and towers in Lagos in order to save lives and property.
“Lives have been lost and property worth billions destroyed in the past twelve years and no responsible government will fold its hands in the face of these tragedies. Besides, the indiscriminate installation of these structures tells a big story that there is lack of organization,” Igbokwe added.
According to him, “The Lagos State Government is aware that there are technical specifications from NCC with respect to installation of masts and towers anywhere in Nigeria but there is need for the state to regulate the installation of these structures.
“The builders need construction permit from the state. We need to check the integrity of their structures from time to time, we need to see their maintenance plans, we need to tell them that these structures are not built to last forever.’’