By PRINCE OSUAGWU
Baring any intervention from the federal government Nigerians may soon pay different prices for using telephones depending on which part of the country they live or do business at.
This is because the telecom operators have decided to hike call and other services tariffs to recoup some investments they describe as unwarranted because some states allegedly take laws into their hands to introduce double taxes and forcefully, illegally close down telecom facilities.
The operators complained that having done everything to see that these obnoxious acts stopped to no avail, it has decided to up its service prices in states where such acts are perpetrated to recoup such extra spending.
Giving backing to the intended action, Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria ALTON, Engr Gbenga Adebayo, said that subscribers in states that were hostile to service providers through tax administration would pay more for telecoms services.
For him, “What we are going to do is to adjust the meter so that people making calls from such states pay more than what others are paying,”
Adebayo who addressed journalists in Lagos, weekend on the issue, berated the continued indiscriminate closure of telecom sites and said that operators had decided not to reopen any site closed down by state governments without a court order but will visit the situation with discriminatory tariff regime.
He regretted the poor telecom services witnessed across the country in recent times but blamed it on two factors – natural and man made disasters.
Man made and natural Disasters
According to him, “in September 2012, we had significant attacks and destruction of telecommunications Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) and other infrastructure in some parts of Northern Nigeria. The attacks, which occurred in the early hours of the 5th, 6th 7th and 8th of September 2012 and other incidences afterwards, resulted in severe service disruptions in the areas primarily affected and by extension other parts of the country. The attacks have since limited the ability of millions of Nigerian subscribers to access telecommunications services.
“In recent times some parts of the country witnessed unprecedented flood due to high water levels, one in the history of the country. This flood in some cases completely destroyed Telecom Transceiver sites (BTS) along its path leading to significant service disruption in the affected areas, with consequential impact on service availability in some other parts that were not affected by the flood.
Other than disruption to services, our members have lost equipment worth several billion of Naira to the flood disaster across the Country. Over additional 300 BTS sites were affected by the Flood.
Closure of telecom facilities
“In addition to the above issues faced by our industry, we continue to face closures of functional sites by Agencies of Government, and we hereby draw the attention of the Federal Government and the general public to the continuous incessant and unlawful closure of telecommunication facility sites by some individuals, communities and indeed State authorities, in spite of the disasters that we face”.