By Emma Okonji
The Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has raised the alarm over theft of telecoms’ manhole covers in Abuja and some other parts of the country.
Chairman of ALTON, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, who spoke to THISDAY recently, said such act would not only cause great economic loss to the country, but would also endanger the lives of motorists and pedestrians who could fall into the exposed ducts while driving or walking, since the manholes are located along major roads and streets.
According to him, it was recently noticed that some persons believed to be social miscreants, were removing the manhole covers that covered telecoms ducts in Abuja and some other parts of the country for their selfish gains.
Speaking on the implication of their action, Adebayo said the telecoms infrastructure, which contains fibre optic cables and copper wire that has high economic value would be exposed, and that it also raises concern on public safety since motorists and commuters could fall into the exposed telecoms ducts, which are usually very deep underground, housing telecoms transmission cables in the metropolis.
He said although the Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA) had to set up a task force to monitor and protect the manholes, he however called for further action on the part of the federal government to ensure that all telecoms infrastructure are adequately protected and to declare telecoms infrastructure as critical national infrastructure that must be protected at all times.
“The theft of telecoms’ manhole covers will also expose the telecoms fibre optic cables, which could lead to theft of the cables or even vandalisation of the cables, which will also lead to disconnection and eventual loss of signals and all these will translate to poor service quality delivery in such areas and its environs,” Adebayo said.
Giving the number of telecoms ducts and manhole covers in Abuja metropolis alone, Adebayo said “there are several hundreds of telecoms ducts manhole covers in Abuja alone and they all need adequate protection in order to maintain better quality of service.”
He assured Nigerians that telecoms operators would continue to strive to ensure better service quality to all subscribers across all networks, while calling on the federal government to assist them in protecting existing telecoms infrastructure across the country.