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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Lagos lifts ban on PTOs, Odili decries random masts erection

Remmy Nweke, Chinedu Wosu PH

Lagos State government has finally lifted the ban on the ‘stop order’
on Private Telecommunications Operators (PTOs) in the state over laying of cables across public roads and properties, even as Globacom is yet to be unbanned over the same issue.

This is coming as Governor Peter Odili of Rivers State has urged the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to checkmate the random erection of telecommunications masts in Port Harcourt, just as NCC is to establish a zonal office in the state.

Principle Public Relations Officer (PPRO) at the Lagos State Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Jide Lawal disclosed this reversal to Champion Infotel, saying that the State House of Assembly has completed the enactment of Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency Law, to guide the construction of lines and laying of cables across public roads and properties in the State.

Mr. Lawal quoted the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, in a press statement made available as saying that the unbanning directive did not include the Second National Operator (SNO), Globacom, as the Ministry and Globacom are still at long ahead.

“The unbanning directive did not include Globacom as the Ministry and Globacom are still on the verge of agreeing on specific details that would culminate in giving the go ahead for duct laying activities by Globacom,” he declared.

The commissioner also said that the unbanning of the other PTOs was as a result of serious commitment exerted from them on the need to repair the road after cutting and to meet some other conditions, arguing that the roads cost government a huge fortune to construct and maintain.

Mr. Aregbesola pointed out that in order to prevent the indiscriminate cutting of roads by PTOs in the Lagos State, it was pertinent that some guidelines be put in place to check the anomaly.

According to the commissioner, part of the modalities put in place to control the manner of road cutting by PTOs during the laying of their telecom pipes include that the PTOs must submit to the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure a weekly programme of works to be carried out, display of signboards on site for identification as this will guide road users plying the roads while also providing a layout of area of coverage.

He explained further that the Ministry has issued abatement notices to some individuals and private companies whose activities on Lagos roads have been found to be injurious to the durability of roads in the state.

Emphasising that some of the unwholesome activities could negatively affect the roads as being exhibited by perpetrators including the use of roads as workshops particularly by some artisans such as Mechanics, Car wash operators and Blockmaking factories, discharging of waste water on road, effluent discharge on road, the cutting of roads without approval or not conforming to specification and using parts of pavement as workplace.

The Commissioner also advised all affected corporate companies and private individuals to desist from such exercises, observing that the maintenance and safeguarding of Lagos roads should be the collective duty of everybody.

In a related development, Governor Peter Odili of Rivers State has urged NCC to checkmate the indiscriminate erection of telecommunications masts in the state.
This came as NCC is set to establish a zonal office in Port Harcourt.

Gov. Odili gave the charge when the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe visited him at Government House, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, at the weekend.

Odili, who lamented the random erection by the service providers in the state is problematic, particularly to aviation industry.

He called on NCC to regulate the activities of the operators in this regard, and decried the destruction of roads, pipelines and other infrastructure in the state by the service providers especially water pipes and underground cables.

“These providers fail to restore the lines and cables after destruction” he lamented, and appealed for cooperation from the commission and operators.

He also assured NCC that his government would not make any law that is contrary to the constitution, assuring of his administration’s support in developing telecommunications infrastructure in the state and the country at large.

Responding, NCC boss, Dr. Ndukwe said that the commission has decided to make Port Harcourt a zonal operating center for the South-South zone.

Stressing that it is strategic due to its socio-economic importance to the nation and requested for a land to build its zonal headquarters and for installation of monitoring radio equipment in the state.

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