Wednesday, September 12, 2007

ALTON wants Fashola to call LASIMRA to order

THE Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), has urged the Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) to call the Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA) to order.

Even as it has petitioned the Federal Government over the excesses of LASIMRA led by Mr. Joe Igbokwe, insisting that regulation of telecom companies in the state by the agency is illegal, and denied any health implication due to installation of telecom infrastructure in communities.

Reacting to recent media reports, on the ban of erecting new telecom masts in Lagos State, placed by LASIMRA, ALTON chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo said that the actions of the agency depicts nothing but motives to generate revenues for the state.

He expressed concern over the persistence harassment of its members by LASIMRA officials and dismantling of telecom infrastructure, despite a recent court ruling in February this year.

“We’re concerned that despite the subsisting judgment of the Federal High Court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/517/06: The Registered Trustees of ALTON & Ors v Lagos State Government & Ors that Engr Igbokwe in the said media address warned that any telecom operator who embarks upon base station erection, and installation without a permit duly issued by LASIMRA would be appropriately sanctioned,” he noted.

He pointed out that the aforementioned court action had challenged the LASIMRA Act through which the Lagos State Government (LASG) sought to regulate the activities of telecom operators within the State.

ALTON also reminded LASIMRA that the regulation of telecom industry in the country is the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

As said by him, in the final judgment delivered by Auta J. on February 25, 2007, the court held that telecommunications is a matter under the exclusive legislative list of the 1999 Constitution and accordingly “No State Government or State House of Assembly has the jurisdiction to legislate on it, any such legislation is null and void” and “To the extent that it seeks to regulate the activities of telecoms operators in Lagos State, the IMRA law is an encroachment on the Nigerian Communications Act, a Federal Legislation which “covers the field” with respect to the regulation of telecommunications infrastructure in Nigeria.”

ALTON further said that the appeal has become necessary because LASIMRA’s actions and insinuations was not healthy for the development of telecommunications in the country and Lagos State in particular.

According to him, there is no scientific evidence to show that telecommunications infrastructure is a health risk for the host communities as alleged by LASIMRA, warning it could instigate the public against telcos.

ALTON commended the Gov. Fashola, for lifting the ban on road excavations and earth cum tar cut activities by telecoms operators.

“We recognise and commend His Excellency’s recognition of the interest of the business community and subscribers,” Mr. Adebayo declared.

ALTON further noted that in pursuant to NCC guidelines, the commission has continually encouraged operators to collocate wherever technically feasible and operators are currently working towards increasing collocation sites.

Hence, ALTON was concerned that the motives touted in Mr. Joe Igbokwe, the General Manager, LASIMRA’s media utterances lately was engrossed on the telecoms industry without mention of the hundreds of mast and towers belonging to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), Radio and Television Stations, oil companies, banks and state government agencies in Lagos State, who collectively have more mast and towers than telecommunication services providers.

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