Telcos Seek Engagement with FG to Re-route Submarine Cables on Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road  

Emma Okonji

Telecoms operators (Telcos) have called on the federal government to immediately engage with them for proper mapping and relocation of the submarine cables that were laid beneath the earth surface at the Lagos axis of the proposed Lagos-Calabar coastal road.

They are worried that the cables could be damaged, and internet connectivity disrupted when the Lagos-Calabar coastal road construction begins,  

According to them, several submarine cables like SAT-3, MainOne, Glo 1, WACS and ACE, which came from Europe, covering thousands of kilometres, with landing stations in Lagos, are likely to be damaged if they are not re-routed before the commencement of construction work on the proposed Lagos-Calabar coastal road. The Telcos warned that if the submarine cables were not properly relocated before commencement of the road construction, it would likely cause serious damage to the cables and disrupt internet connectivity across the country. 

At a recent meeting between members of the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and the Federal Ministry of Works, which held in Lagos, and led by the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos State, Mrs. Olukorede Keisha, ATCON members drew the attention of the federal government to the current challenges there are facing with SAT3 submarine cable that was improperly relocated during the construction of Eko Atlantic City in Lagos.

According to them, SAT-3 was poorly relocated during the Eko Atlantic project and up till this moment SAT-3 is still experiencing power failure and its efficiency has been seriously compromised because of the unprofessional re-routing by the road workers.

ATCON members therefore advised the federal government to engage meaningfully with telecoms operators for proper relocation of all the seven submarine cables that have landing points at the shores of Lagos, to avoid total internet disruption across the country.

Speaking during the meeting, Keisha said the meeting was called to further deliberate on the planned construction of the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway. She said the meeting became necessary because the Federal Ministry of Works realised that there were some telecoms infrastructures buried along those corridors, which must be carefully relocated and aligned with the master drawing of the project.

Dr. Eugene Itua of Natural Eco Capital, however listed things to be done by the federal government before the commencement of Lagos-Calabar coastal highway to include decommissioning of all facilities on the corridor and relocating them in a most professional manner. He called on telecoms operators to mark where they have facilities along the route to avoid any form of damages during construction work, adding that best practice for sustainability will be employed to achieve hitch-free project execution.

“Federal Ministry of Works has taken into consideration areas where submarine cables were located. Government will work with submarine cable owners to know the location of their cables, pretty much so that provision of 7.5metres duct has been made for utility corridors,” Keisha said. 

Executive Secretary of ATCON, Mr. Ajibola Olude, said: “The association represents many telecoms companies that are likely to be affected when the execution of the highway starts, if proper relocation exercise is not carried out. ATCON therefore request that the association be carried along as the project commences and ATCON is ready to work closely with the Federal Ministry of Works to ensure that all telecoms facilities along the earmarked route are carefully relocated.”

Also worried about the likely impact of the planned construction of the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway on telecoms facilities, especially submarine cables, Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, said telecoms operators had earlier received approval on Right of Way (RoW) from government before routing the submarine cables along that axis after they landed at the shores of the country. According to him, federal government ought to have followed the distance approved for RoW for telecoms facilities when mapping out Lagos-Calabar coastal high way, to avoid encroaching on the corridors of existing telecoms facilities.

“Federal government did not consult telecoms operators when mapping the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway. We suffered telecoms cable damage during the construction of Lagos-Ibadan highway and we will not want to suffer such damages on the Lagos-Calabar coastal high way, because of the ripple effect it would create on internet connectivity across the country,” Adebayo said.

He therefore called on the federal government to begin consultations with telecoms operators in order to have meaningful discussions on the relocation of the submarine cables and the cost implications for the relocation.       

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