" ITREALMS: Fashola backs LASIMRA against ALTON


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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Fashola backs LASIMRA against ALTON

Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, has thrown his weight behind the position of the state-owned Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA) to regulate telecommunications infrastructure in its domain.

Speaking on his 2008 agenda on Channels Television on the New Year edition of its Sunrise Daily live, Governor Fashola insisted on the intention of the state to regulate the urban development aspect of telecommunications, especially by the host state.

Champion Infotel recalls that last February 25, a Federal High Court presided over by Justice Joseph Auta, delivered a landmark judgment in favour of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) in the suit No. FHC/L/CS/517/06, which was on registered trustees of ALTON & Ors versus Lagos State Government & Ors.

Lagos State has since appealed the judgment which first hearing is expected this quarter.

Champion Infotel gathered that filing of papers have reached advanced stage to facilitate the case getting first hearing before the April this year.

Responding to questions on the matter at the session, Gov. Fashola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), noted that Lagos State has the powers to regulate the urban planning element of its environment, stressing that it is saddening to see about four mast towers mounted at a location ordinarily where it could have been just one.

He also pointed out that some mast towers are located too close to residence and public centres like schools and expressed dismay over a recent incident that involved a fallen mast tower and a school building.

He advised telecommunications operators to co-locate and reiterated the state’s resolve to pursue the case up to the Supreme Court, since the operators have gone to court in the first place.

Governor Fashola further said that the state is not keen in contesting the powers of the Federal Government (FG) or the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over the regulation of telecommunications in the country, but maintained that host states of these companies should be entitled to some incentives.

He emphasised that since states host these companies and their infrastructure tend to change the landscape of the environment coupled with emission issues, “we deserve some incentives in this regard.”

While Fashola is taking this stand in the New Year, LASIMRA had last quarter indicated interest to settle out of court with ALTON.

Champion Infotel gathered through high placed sources that ALTON is equally interested in out of court settlement, but both organisations are waiting for who would blink first.

Noteworthy is that last quarter of 2007 witnessed incessant arrests and detention of telcom officials by LASIMRA for alleged unlawful laying of infrastructure.

ALTON confirmed that the trend would impact adversely not only on the development of telecommunications in the country, and Lagos precisely as the nerve centre of the nation.

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