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Shittu urges communities to protect telecommunications facilities


Nigeria-Telecommunication-TowerMr Adebayo Shittu, the Minister of Communications, has called on communities where telecommunication infrastructure are located to protect such facilities.

The minister made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.

“Ideally, telecommunications infrastructure should be regarded as a critical national infrastructure which must be protected.

“Which must also be patronised by all government but what do we have now? To lay a cable of 10 meters along communities, the communication companies have to pay the Federal Government, the state government, local government.

“At times they have to pay to the “omo onile’’, the owners of the land. So these are issues which contribute to the cost of running telecommunications services and also contribute to the efficiency level of these services,’’ he said.

Shittu said that the ministry understood that there were areas which they have problems, “which is beyond their control’’.

He said that such areas include lack of enough capital to ensure sufficient laying of cables around the country.

He explained that laying of cables required a lot of capital, adding that to install a mast cost about N40 million.
According to him, a company is required to have nothing less than 40,000 masts at the minimum across the country to be able to operate.

He noted the problem of electricity for their masts, saying that they were supposed to rely on the national grid “which is largely unavailable, so they have to resort to the use of diesel for their generators.’’

“Before now, it was a huge debt on them, now that petrol prices have increased locally, the problem has been complicated and we even allow them because of this to increase their rates.

“So we sympathise with them on such issues. Of course, the issue of vandalism and stealing of their property in several communities is affecting them,’’ he said.

Shittu said that there was no doubt that there had been complains, stating that even as the minister of communication, he was also complaining.

“This is because we keep having drop calls every now and then,’’ he said.

He said that the source of some these complains were induced by the telecommunications companies “out of greed but some are really out of their control’’.

“For example, if I never applied for a particular programme, like studying abroad, they tell me that N20 has been taken from my account for studying abroad.

“And they are asking me that if I want to discontinue, I should press something.

“The initial money they took is illegal and unlawful because I never applied to do such. Even when you discontinue, the thing is repeated and they continue taking your N20 and it is certainly unacceptable.

“We have to address all these issues and stop such deductions,’’ he said.

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