BY EMEKA AGINAM
The Lagos State Government has given owners of communications masts made of hollow-pipes until April, 30th , 3014 to replace them with galvanized steel masts.
The General Manager, Urban Furniture Regulatory Unit (UFRU), Mr. Joe Igbokwe, issued the deadline Tuesday in Lagos after the early morning rainstorm last Sunday that , pulled down several communication masts, which destroyed buildings and cars worth billions of naira.
He said that after the April 30th, 20014 deadlines, the UFRU would commence dismantling and evacuation of all hollow-pipe masts in the state, while their owners would take full responsibility of the cost of the dismantling and evacuation.
The areas mostly affected, according to him, were Gbagada, Ojuelegba, Kirikiri in Apapa, Apapa-Oshodi Express Way, Ilupeju, Ikorodu, Ikoyi, Surulere, and Alaba International Market.
MTN, Visafone, Reltel, Diamond Bank, Union Bank, Addoser Microfinance Bank, Africa Finance Corporation, Brain & Brace Security and 13 other unknown operators that were detected immediately after the windstorm, according to him were affected.
Igbokwe noted that although the affected MTN mast was made with galvanized steel, it was erected on the top of a building and was not properly fitted.
“After we must have removed all hollow-pipe masts in the state, their owners must replace them with galvanised steel masts, if they so wish to do so.”, he said.
He also warned all operators using towers and masts to comply with the Lagos State infrastructure laws, or be prepared to face the wrath of the law.
Even though no life was during the latest incident, the torrential rainfall, accompanied by heavy windstorms brought down trees and mostly hollow-pipe masts belonging to telecommunications companies and banks.
Igbokwe, while giving details of the damage said the havoc would have been more, if not for the timely intervention of UFRU in sensitizing masts owners to evacuate all hollow-pipe masts and to replace them with galvanized steel masts.
According to him, the agency had in the past dismantled several masts belonging to banks and insurance companies that were threats to lives and property in the state.
Narrating the incident, he said that the windstorm was so severe that it pulled down roof tops, trees, houses, electric poles, sign posts and telecoms masts, damaging property worth billions of naira.
Attributing the damage to the weakness of hollow-pipe masts used by most banks and insurance companies, Igbokwe said Lagos government had severally warned that all weak and hollow-pipe masts be dismantled and replaced with galvanized steel masts, but that most banks and insurance companies had refused to obey the laws of the state, which seeks to save life and property of the good people of Lagos.
He further disclosed that the state government had since 2006 issued several warnings to owners of the affected masts to replace them and even provided specifications for building new ones, but they failed to comply with the directives.
Providing update on the incident, Igbokwe, who said property worth billions of naira were damaged, attributed it to weakness of hollow-pipe masts used by most banks and insurance companies, who he said had refused to obey the laws of the state, which seeks to save life and property of the good people of Lagos.
He said the agency had in the past dismantled several masts belonging to banks and insurance companies because they constituted threats to lives and property in the state.