Governor Babatunde Fashola
By Emma Okonji
Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development has commenced demolition of weak and unauthorised masts in the state, believed to be source of threat to residents.
Urban Furniture Regulatory Unit (UFRU), a new agency established by the ministry to regulate the activities of telecoms operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the area of masts and towers installations, carried out the operation last week.
During the exercise, a near-completed base station belonging to one of the GSM operators was pulled down on Ago Palace Way, in Okota, a suburb of Lagos.
Briefing newsmen shortly after the demolition exercise, General Manager of UFRU, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, said a stop work order notice was given to the GSM operator to stop construction at the early stage of work, until there was approval for such construction.
He said that the operator flagrantly ignored the authority of Lagos government and continued with the erection, until it was near-completion.
“We noticed that a particular GSM operator was building a base station without approval, after government notice that it was illegal to build base stations and towers in Lagos without permit from the ministry, through its agency, UFRU. For violating the law of the state, it became necessary that we pull down the base station because we are not sure of its strength and its environmental impact assessment,” Igbokwe said.
Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo could not be reached on phone to confirm the development.
According to Igbokwe, “it is the duty of UFRU to regulate telecoms masts and towers in the state, ensure that the location of the base station is in order, and as well supervise the kind of materials that will be used for the erection of masts and towers in the state.”
The essence of the regulation, he said, was to avert cases of collapsed masts and towers in the state.
He gave instances where collapsed masts and towers have destroyed buildings, cars and personal effects of people whose offices and homes were close to masts and base stations.
According to him, collapsed masts have taken lives of innocent people in the past, leaving some in critical health conditions.
“We cannot fold our hands and sit back and watch innocent citizens and the mass of our people being injured or even die as a result of indiscriminate and unguided operations of service providers and their proxies and that is why we cannot continue to do business as usual at the expense of public health”, he said.
Igbokwe appealed to the public and all stakeholders in the telecoms industry to cooperate with the agency and follow the regulatory guidelines in ensuring safety of the environment and the protection of lives and property of the people of Lagos.