Governor Babatunde Fashola
By Emma Okonji
The Lagos State Physical Planning and Urban Development, through the Urban Furniture Regulatory Unit (UFRU), has sounded a note of warning to telecoms operators, not to toil with the orders of the state, as it affects mast regulation.
General Manager of UFRU, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, who gave the warning in Lagos, said the state would not hesitate to take necessary action against telecoms operators that would neglect the orders of the state government concerning telecoms mast regulation.
The warning order is sequel to the refusal of some telecoms operating companies to supply UFRU with the details of all existing masts in the state to enable it build a database for administrative convenience, as earlier directed by UFRU.
The Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Olutoyin Ayinde, had in May this year, established UFRU and empowered it to commence regulatory functions on all masts installed by telecoms companies, banks, and Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
. He called on all organisations involved in the use and installations of masts and towers in the state to take the agency seriously and comply with its regulations.
According to Igbokwe, the warning became necessary following refusal of telecoms operators to comply with its directives, after several letters were written to them.
“We have written to them to furnish us with information and we need the information to conduct integrity tests on all transmitting structures and to check whether they are fit to remain where they are. We also need the data to be able to deal effectively with the deluge of complaints from Lagosians concerning the structures located within their residential communities,” Igbokwe said.
According to him, while the banks responded by supplying UFRU with the information needed, the telecoms operators, ISPs, excluding Multilinks and Mobitel have been playing games with UFRU.
“Deceit, lies, and misinformation have become their stock in trade,” Igbokwe added.
He reiterated that masts operators in the country must subject their existing structures to integrity test, pay permit fees on existing and newly installed masts, obtain permit on all existing structures since 2001, and pay annual and administrative charge for all installations.
Reacting, Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo warned of the impending danger that may come up, should Lagos government insist on masts regulation.
Adebayo said ALTON would not hesitate to seek court action in other to redress the issue. He faulted the regulatory fees of N2 million per new mast, N1 million per existing mast, and an annual renewable fee of N500, 000 per mast installed in Lagos.
Igbokwe however warned telecoms operators that the Ministry of Physical Planning laws cannot be challenged.