‘Telecoms operators use gutters, trees as right of way in Lagos’
• ALTON faults allegation
Service providers in Lagos State are indiscriminately installing fiber optic cables in gutters and on trees as right of way, causing flooding and economic loss.
The indictment is contained in a study carried out on behalf of the Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA) by Critical Infrastructure Services (CIS) Limited.
LASMIRA had on February 26, 2016 asked CIS Limited to conduct an audit on the underground utilities network within the geographical boundaries of the state and ensure all providers are in compliance with statutory provisions, with regards to all underground communication infrastructure.”
Confirming the report, the Chief Executive Officer of CIS, Chukwudi Obike Okpara, said that in the process of preparing the “As Built Database” of all underground facilities in Lagos, the company found that several telecommunications service providers have had a free ride and might have even avoided payment of right of way to LASIMRA by installing cables in gutters and drains.
He said that during investigation, it was discovered that areas such as Saka Tinubu St., Kofo Aboyimi St., Saka Tinubu/Akin Adesola St. junction., Ozumba Obamdiwe St., (junction)., Ajose Adeogun St., all in Victoria Island, Lagos, were worst affected by indiscriminate installation of cables.
The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), however, faulted the report, saying such practice was not sustainable.
ALTON’s chairman, Gbenga Adebayo, said business-minded telecoms operators would not install cables in drainages.
“It is technically impossible for any operator to install fibre optic cables in gutters and drainages where water flows, when such cables are not submarine cables. It is only submarine cables that are specially designed to remain in water. Fibre optic cables that transmit telecoms data and signals cannot survive in water, and therefore cannot be installed in drainages,” he said.
An official of one of the GSM firms, who spoke to The Guardian anonymously, also faulted the claim, saying: “That is impossible. How sure are we that those cables are fibre optic?”
He explained that the company he worked with had a Memorandum of Understanding with the Lagos State government, “so why should we? I don’t know of others that might be involved in such. It is just not practicable. For instance, operators have paid about N1.4 trillion as taxes and levies to government.”
Okpara advised telecoms operators to ensure they provided quality services to customers by disconnecting cables in gutters, drains and on trees, paying LASIMRA for right of way, installing cables according to International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standards and utilising duct space in parts of the state.
“While conducting the Utility Network Audit in several major streets and roads in Lagos, on behalf of LASIMRA, Critical Infrastructure Services Ltd personnel saw cables on trees and in several gutters and drains illegally installed by telecommunications operators.
“It is amazing that at our stage of development, telecommunications service providers will install cables on trees and gutters. These are short cuts, probably, to avoid the payment of right of way to Lagos State. No doubt, these are responsible for poor quality of service,” he said.
The CEO added that service providers, as good corporate citizens, must support the state by paying for the requisite right of way.