Wednesday, December 04, 2013

CommTech, Lagos, ALTON enter deal to reduce ROW by 85%

A milestone agreement was recently reached between the Ministry of Communication Technology (CommTech), the Lagos State Government and the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) to reduce Right of Way (RoW) charges by 85 per cent and boost deployment of broadband in the country, ITRealms reports.
Confirming this development to ITRealms, Mrs. Efem Nkanga, the Special Assistant to CommTech Minister, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, said that this deal would remove constraints to the installation, rollout and deployment of base stations and fibre optic cable in Lagos State.

ITRealms gathered that the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson and the Governor of Lagos state, Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola with some officials held a closed door meeting at the State House penultimate Thursday, to address the issues of taxes, levies, decommissioned sites and Right of Way (RoW) fees mitigating against quality of service in the state.

It was also gathered that the meeting attracted Governor Fashola, some key members of ALTON, Mrs. Johnson, Commissioner of Science and Tech, Mr Biyi Mabadeje, Commissioner of Works, Mr Obafemi Hamzat and officials from Etisalat, Main One, Airtel, MTN and Globacom, deliberated on the aforementioned issues.

ALTON members, ITRealms learnt had expressed concerns that these issues were making it difficult for operators to rollout much needed Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure in the centre of excellence.

Gov. Fashola remarked that good infrastructure rollout and deployment was in the best interest of residents of Lagos State, making very much needed infrastructure and capacity available; insisting that it is not the wish of the State to prevent operators from rolling out.

“We need you to roll out probably more than you need it. But we do not need it at the expense of our roads, or lives of the people. Infrastructure must be built to very high standards, for example, masts must be built with galvanized steel and not hollow pipes to prevent them from collapsing. You may find that sites that may have been decommissioned by UFRU probably did not meet these standards or had not paid up their levies, when badly build sites collapse it is we who are left to pick up the pieces,” Fashola pointed out.

Although, ALTON members at the meeting while commending the deal, urged for a standardised approach for excavating roads where no ducts existed, even as they maintained, there were no telecoms masts in the state constructed with hollow piles.

“All telecoms masts in Lagos State are built with galvanized steel,” ALTON official reiterated.
Responding to ALTON’s position on prohibitive taxes, levies and right of way fees in Lagos, the Commissioner of Science and Technology for Lagos, Mr Mabadeje read out an agreement by Lagos State to reduce taxes and levies in Lagos by over 40 per cent and Right of Way fees were reduced from N3000 to N500 - a reduction of over 85 per cent.

However, this was on the condition that operators agreed to use approved and qualified contractors who would ensure the integrity of the road after the fibre had been installed in the event that there was no fibre duct on the road.

Operators further agreed with Lagos to a ‘dig once’ policy whereby the first operator to dig the road for fibre installation would install a duct with spare capacity for other operators to use when they wanted to install fibre instead of digging up the road again. Governor Fashola reiterated that all new roads in Lagos State already have ducts and that the operators should submit annual infrastructure plans to Lagos State to allow for proper planning on both sides.

The meeting ended on a high note with ALTON members consenting that this indeed was a significant step forward and in the right direction.

Mrs. Johnson applauded Lagos State for leading the charge in removing many of the barriers and obstacles to telecoms infrastructure deployment in Lagos and expressed her hope that many other states would follow suit in making telecoms and broadband infrastructure available to all.

Remmy Nweke 
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D
Pix: Gov. Fashola of Lagos State.

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