By Emma Okonji
Worried by the indiscriminate installation of communications masts and towers and the perceived danger they pose to environment, the Lagos State Government has established a new agency that will regulate masts installations in the state.
The new agency, known as Urban Furniture Regulatory Unit (UFRU), was established through the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, to regulate the activities of telecoms operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the area of masts and towers installations.
It will address anomalies created by persons and organisations who erect masts and towers indiscriminately without regard to the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2010, and other regulations made in respect of the law.
UFRU is located in Agidingbi in Ikeja, and will be managed by Mr. Joe Ibokwe as head of the unit.
Lagos Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Olutoyin Ayinde who gave the information in a statement in Lagos recently, said UFRU had been mandated to immediately commence its regulatory functions.
He called on the public, especially telecoms operators, ISPs and all organisations involved in the use and installations of masts and towers in the state, to take the agency seriously and comply with the regulations that would be released by UFRU soonest.
According to the Commissioner “UFRU does not regulate telecommunications activities in the state and as such cannot grant licences or allocate frequencies, but backed by law to regulate masts and towers installations in the state and ensure compliance with Lagos State Laws and Regulations on Physical Planning and Urban Development.”
Part of the mandate given UFRU includes to regulate the placing of urban furniture, including telecommunications antennae, masts and towers on land and buildings in the state; approve and supervise the location, position, dimensions, appearance, display and manner in which urban furniture shall be affixed to land; implement the rates and fees chargeable for permits to erect all outdoor telecommunications infrastructure, including masts, towers, base stations and parabolic antennae, as may be prescribed by Commissioner in line with the provisions of the law setting up the ministry.
The Commissioner called on all telecommunications operators, ISPs, banks, masts builders and all users of masts and towers to take note of the functions of the new agency and identify with it accordingly.
“Owners, users and operators of masts and towers, including parabolic antennae like VSAT and other types of antennae and similar structure, should register with UFRU for the purpose of sanitising the environment, and UFRU will develop, maintain and update a database of all existing telecommunications masts and base stations and similar infrastructure erected throughout the state,” Ayinde said.
He said that UFRU would among other things, monitor continuously, all parts of the state to ensure that infrastructure are of high quality materials conforming to international standards are maintained appropriately.