By Iliya Kure
Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), has issued a seven days ultimatum to Federal Government to address the frequent closure of their installations in Kogi State, as well as the refusal of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to allow telecoms operators to build telecoms infrastructure in Abuja, the country’s capital.
“As a result of these actions by the state government, our members are unable to refuel the power generators nor provide any support or maintenance services in these sites, a situation which has currently resulted in the outage of over 70 sites including hub sites across parts of Kogi State,” Chairman of ALTON, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, said at a media briefing journalists in Lagos.
He said if not addressed, the action of Kogi State government could lead to the total communications blackout in the entire Kogi State, parts of Abuja the Federal Capital Territory and possibly impact on service availability in some neighbouring states like Nassarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara, Niger.
It therefore called on the federal government to prevail on Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, to reverse the order to close telecoms sites in the state within the next seven days.
The Association warned that they would be forced to commence nationwide disconnection of telecoms services, if the issues in Kogi State and the FCT were not addressed after seven days.
“The impact of these outages will gradually spread to the states mentioned above and if no action is taken within the next few days, a total outage of telecommunication sites in all these states will be catastrophically experienced.
“We are very concerned that this indiscriminate action has the potential of further leading to a total telecommunications outage in Kogi State with neighboring states and parts of the Federal Capital Territory adversely impacted.
“We will therefore be left with no other option than to begin nationwide disconnection of telecoms services, if the issues are not addressed after seven days.”
Adebayo added, “Telcos have settled all statutory levies and taxes due to the Kogi State government and have taken necessary steps to comply with local laws that govern business activities within Kogi State.”
Speaking about the quality of telecoms service in Federal Capital Territory, Adebayo said the FCDA, office of the Director for Signage and Advertisement has refused to grant telecommunication service providers permit to build infrastructure in the Federal capital city.
“This is affecting the quality of services around FCT and Abuja. The problem is created by the governing authority in the FCT. Telecommunications services drive on the terrestrial infrastructure. We hereby call on the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to prevail on the FCDA in granting approval/permit to our members to deploy infrastructure,” he added.
The chairman said ALTON and its members would no longer accept discriminatory charges against the sector, saying that the industry was planning to begin a study on varying tariff to some of the unfriendly telecommunications states in other to accommodate their demand. Those states that are requesting for non-statutory levies and taxes are the one being subsidised by some viable states, Adebayo further said.
“We want to be clear and state categorically that the action by Kogi and FCDA will not only jeopardise communication services provided by our members to the Nigerian subscribers, but will have the greater effect of negatively impacting the use of critical communication infrastructure by our National and State security agencies in the discharge of their duties to provide necessary security for the country, especially in these trying times, when communication across states should be uninterrupted and seamless.”