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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Sealing of base stations: NESREA action is embarrassing – ALTON

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), has described the face-off between the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Nigerian Environmental Standards Regulatory and Enforcement Agency (NESREA) as embarrassing to the nation and particularly the industry.

ALTON president, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo made this known at a press conference on the position of the organization, saying that they differ with NESREA and stand by NCC position the issue.

He said that even if an agency of the government wishes to seal off an infrastructure, it behooves on the agency to take on due process by way of getting court injunction, alerting the relevant operators concerned and precisely the industry regulator before the final aspect of exercise of the court injunction.

Based on the foregoing, ALTON he said wishes to once again bring to public attention the disruptions in communications service caused by the increasing spate of interference with telecoms installations by an agency of government purportedly carrying out regulatory functions.

“As we have noted in the past, these impulsive closures cause very serious negative impacts to Nigerians whose lives and livelihood increasingly depend on the 100 per cent availability of the telecoms networks and are particularly worrisome given current security challenges in the country,” he said.

ALTON, accordingly notes that all telecoms and other installations must comply with extant laws regarding environmental safety, insisting that in order to achieve this, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as the sole statutory regulator of the telecoms industry has articulated and aggressively enforces regulations on the installation of masts, towers and other telecom facilities.

However, ALTON noted that the Nigerian Environmental Standards Regulatory and Enforcement Agency (NESREA) has continued to assert conflicting jurisdiction on this matter, carrying out arbitrary and unjustified closures and demobilisation of such infrastructure.

They noted with excitement that the Honorable Ministers of the Environment and Communications Technology recently took ministerial action to harmonise the activities of NESREA and the NCC on the technical environmental regulation of the telecoms sector.

“It is however saddening to note that NESREA has continued to carry on as if it is not subject to either the laws of the Federation or the supervisory authority of the Honourable Minister of the Environment,” they lamented.

ALTO mentioned particularly the instances, that NESREA has unlawfully sealed the base station sites of its members in Abuja, Enugu, Owerri, Ado Ekiti and Ibadan, thereby causing serious network outages and congestion.

They pointed out that when the NCC caused the site in Abuja to be unsealed in lawful exercise of its statutory powers, NESREA again unlawfully invaded the site with armed policemen, demobilized the site and caused loss of service to millions of individuals, businesses, law enforcement and security agents.

Babatund Laniyan, Admin Sec. Gbalahun, Ronke of MTN,
ALTON president Gbenga Adebayo, Tom Iwueze

“We note that some of these sites collocate over six separate operators and the activities of NESREA have severely impacted on the quality of service delivery to our esteemed subscribers who are affected on the respective networks,” he decried.

ALTON, the president said, wishes to point out that such impulsive disruption of communications service is extremely dangerous to national security, particularly at this trying time in the national history when the uninterrupted availability of telecoms service is critical to the ability of law enforcement and security agencies to respond to the recurrent cases of bombings, armed robbery and other condemnable activities which threaten national security and economy.

Remmy Nweke

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