NCAA Threatens to Demolish 7,000 GSM Masts in Nigeria over Safety Concerns

Muhtar Usman
Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muhtar Usman

Gives network providers 30 days ultimatum

Chinedu Eze

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has threatened to demolish over 7,000 telecommunication masts and towers belonging to some Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) providers erected all over the country, saying they constitute danger to safe flight operations.

The agency gave the network providers 30 days’ ultimatum to obtain approval for the masts and towers; otherwise, it would demolish them.

In a statement signed by its spokesman, Sam Adurogboye, NCAA explained that it was compelled to take this line of action when the telecommunication providers blatantly failed to obtain the statutory Aviation Height Clearance (AHC).

“Without Aviation Height Clearance, all these masts and towers constitute danger to safety of air navigation.

“Under the Civil Aviation Act, 2006, Section 30(3)(1), the NCAA is empowered to prohibit and regulate the installation of any structure which by virtue of its height or position is considered to endanger the safety of air navigation.

“Furthermore, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) Part stipulates that no person or organisation shall put up a structure (permanent or temporary) within the navigable airspace of Nigeria unless such a person or organisation is a holder of Aviation Height Clearance Certificate granted under this regulation,” the statement said.

The regulatory authority said consequent upon this provision; the agency requires an Aviation Height Clearance (AHC) approval for every tower installation irrespective of the height and location.

“Several letters and entreaties sent to the GSM providers from the authority were not responded to despite that they were duly received by the relevant executives and duly acknowledged. In addition, Letters of Investigation (LOI) were written and delivered to them with no response recorded till date.

“It will be recalled that in a meeting with the Director General, early this year, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) members were candidly advised to ensure they obtain Aviation Height Clearance. This was to reiterate the need for all masts and towers erected in Nigeria to adhere to safety regulation and ensure safety of air navigation,” the statement said.

NCAA disclosed that at the meeting, representatives of the network providers were present and were asked questions concerning their refusal to obtain Aviation Height Clearance certificate for some of the masts.

“In response, the delegates demanded to be furnished with the location of the masts. A booklet containing the coordinates and location of the masts has since been made available to them. As a result of the meeting, some telecommunications providers have implicitly demonstrated considerable compliance by duly obtaining the requisite height clearance from the authority except for the few defaulters that have over 7000 masts.

“It is instructive to note that there are well over 40,000 masts and towers in Nigeria. Statutorily, all telecommunications operators should obtain Aviation Height Clearance (AHC) and ensure their annual validity,” NCAA also said.