A landmark agreement that will remove constraints to the installation, roll out and deployment of base stations and fibre optic cable in Lagos state has been brokered between the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology, the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) and the Lagos state government.
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 to address the issues of taxes, levies, decommissioned sites and Right of Way fees mitigating against quality of service in the state.
At the meeting attended by Governor Fashola, members of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria ALTON, Mrs Omobola Johnson, Commissioner of Science and Tech, Mr Biyi Mabadeje, Commissioner of Works, Mr Obafemi Hamzat and officials from Etisalat, Main One, MTN, Globacom, those in attendance deliberated on issues of the incidents of fees and taxes, restrictions on the rollout of base stations and fibre networks, the decommissioning of sites, ALTON members at the meeting expressed concerns that these issues were making it difficult for operators to rollout much needed ICT infrastructure in Lagos state.
In a statement made available by Efem Akanga, Special Assistant (Media) to the communication technology minister, she said Governor Fashola addressed the fact that good infrastructure rollout and deployment was in the best interest of residents of Lagos state, making very much needed infrastructure and capacity available. He then reinforced 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,” he said.
He added: “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.”
Telecoms operators in attendance agreed that there should be a standardized approach for excavating roads where no ducts existed
“They confirmed that there were no telecoms masts in the state constructed with hollow piles. All telecoms masts in Lagos State are built with galvanized steel,” Akanga stated.
In response to ALTON members’ position that the taxes, levies and right of way fees for Lagos were prohibitive, the state’s commissioner of science and technology, Mr Mabadeje read out an agreement by Lagos State to reduce taxes and levies in Lagos by over 40% and Right of Way Fees were reduced from N3000 to N500- a reduction of over 85%.
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 also agreed 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.
In her closing remark, the Honourable Minister praised 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.