Chairman, ALTON, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo
Following the recent attacks on telecoms facilities in some Northern states of the Federation, which caused service disruption in several parts of the country, telecoms operators have said the challenge would continue unabated until normalcy returns.
Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, told THISDAY that the operators appreciated the security concerns by government in deploying police and military to guard telecom facilities in the North, but explained that unless government became satisfied with the security situation in the country, and gives operators the full assurance on safety, they will not return to site to carry out any repair work on damaged facilities.
His position suggested that those already affected by the damage, would continue to suffer disruption in receiving telecom services until a time when security is fully guaranteed.
“We value lives and property and we will not want to endanger the lives of our site engineers by sending them to effect repairs on every affected site. We will rather wait to hear from government who deployed security agents at the wake of things, to advise us accordingly on when best to begin repair work,” Adebayo said.
Corporate Service Executive for MTN, Mr. Akinwale Goodluck, who also spoke along the same line, said the current security concerns had prevented not only repair work to damaged equipment, but also routine maintenance, causing disruption to the lives of millions of Nigerians.
According to Goodluck, MTN and other major telecommunications companies had suffered deliberate damage to infrastructure in some parts of Northern Nigeria, and MTN had also experienced multiple cuts on its fibre cable in the same region, which has impacted service in the eastern part of the country.
“Fibre links the different parts of the country to form one cohesive network for business and personal communication. When fibre is damaged, parts of the country are excised and businesses are left high and dry,” he said.
Restating the company’s commitment to providing good service quality, Goodluck said MTN would continue to provide services, despite the attacks. He explained how ICT became the backbone for many aspects of life and business and that the continued damage to it could have an effect on socio-economic life in Nigeria.
He said: “The underpinning of telecommunications is Information Communication Technology (ICT). As such the impact of these incidents, if they continue unabated, will not only affect common telecommunication services like making calls and sending text, which itself has consequences for individual well-being, but would also negatively impact on businesses that rely on telecom. Loss of fibre hampers businesses that depend on ICT to conduct its affairs”.
He called on the Federal Government to urgently confer critical status on ICT and telecommunication infrastructure, describing as improper and unfortunate, the interference by people suspected to be Boko Haram, who had early in the year, warned that they will unleash attacks on telecoms facilities.
Gunmen had penultimate week, attacked telecom facilities in some Northern parts of the country with guns and explosives, destroying 25 Base Transceiver Stations, worth over N1 billion, belonging to MTN, Globacom, Airtel, Etisalat, Multilinks, and telecoms infrastructure provider, Helios Towers.
The states affected were Yobe, Gombe Bauchi, Bornu, Adamawa, Taraba, Kano and Jigawa.