TCN: We’ll Rely on the Court to Recover $75.5m Fibre Optic Debt

  •  Firms: We are not owing

By Chineme Okafor in Abuja

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) yesterday said it was confident about the legal processes initiated to recover about $75.5 million owed it over a period of 11 years by two indigenous telecommunications firms – Alheri Engineering Company Limited, and Phase 3 Telecom Limited, for the use of its fibre optic network through a concession agreement which was entered into in 2006.

Though the telecommunications firms had denied owing the TCN in this arrangement, a statement from the TCN in Abuja, however explained that the transmission company would rely on an existing court process to recover what is owed it by the firms.

 According to a letter the Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, reportedly wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari, on the development, both concessionaires – Phase 3 Telecom and Alheri Engineering, used the fibre optic platforms and the facilities of the TCN during the period of the concession agreement to service their customers. 

TCN said: “The attention of the management of the TCN has been drawn to the recent misrepresentation in recent media publications about the operation of its terminated fibre optic concession contract. It is imperative to state that the issue in question is before a competent court of law. TCN has confidence in our court system and is sure that justice will prevail based on the very clear facts of the case.” 

In his letter, Fashola sought Buhari’s intervention to recover monies owed the TCN by the concessionaires after they failed to pay a concession fee of $40 million each for the use of TCN’s assets to service their customers. 

TCN’s transmission lines are reportedly built with fiber optic lines which can convey telecommunications signals nationwide, but the letter said since 2006, Phase 3 and Alheri paid only $2 million and $3.5 million concession fees, respectively, hence, TCN’s push for the recovery. The agreements also provided for shelter fees of 2.5 per cent royalty on gross revenue. 

Meanwhile, the TCN has disclosed that it would in line with its Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme (TREP) which seeks to upgrade Nigeria’s transmission network, initiate a new procurement process to upgrade its burnt and abandoned 2x60MVA-132/33kV Ayangba transmission substation in Kogi State, to a 330/132kV transmission substation in readiness for evacuation of power that would come from the 3050 megawatts (MW) Mambilla hydro power station. 

The General Manager, Public Affairs of the TCN, Mrs. Ndidi Mbah, told journalists during a working visit to the uncompleted substation which was reportedly abandoned in 2013 after some of its components were burnt by a bush fire and its contractor subsequently died, that the upgrade programme on the substation had been captured in the TREP. 

Mbah, explained that the substation was strategic in delivery of expected power from Mambilla, and as such had begun processes for its upgrade. She noted that the working visit was to intimate the host community on the plan and TCN’s request of their support and cooperation, adding that though the project had failed with the demise of the contractor, the TCN would still go ahead with its upgrade plan. 

She also said the TCN had made plans to evacuate the transmission components that were not burnt by the bush fire in 2013, to its nearby Ajaokuta substation to protect them from weathering, theft, vandalism and any other possible incidence of bush fire. 

Responding to her, the traditional ruler of Ayangba, His Royal Highness, Etila Ajeka, who was represented by Mr. Ibrahim Agbadi, during the visit, said the community would cooperate with the TCN in its plans but want further meetings on the issue.