Did Nigerian telecom companies illegally construct telecom towers and masts around the country?
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has issued scathing warning informing Glo and other Nigerian telecom companies to take down their spectrum masts immediately. The aviation regulatory body says the masts were constructed illegally.
According to a press release on its website, the NCAA says the spectrum towers were constructed without proper Aviation Height Clearance (AHC) to certify them. The NCAA identifies that there are over 7,000 telecom towers in existence without AHC clearance; that’s more than 20% of the 40,000 cell towers in the country.
As a result, NCAA has issued a 30-day notice to telcos to bring down affected spectrum towers or they will be forcefully demolished.
This threat is quite powerful because it could lead to a temporary disruption of telecom services in some parts of the country.
This news may lead many Nigerians wondering whether the NCAA has any authority to dabble into the affairs of the telecom industry in such manner.
Globally, telecom spectrums, by virtue of their heights, are more than just land objects. Their heights make them an important factor that impact on how airplanes work and the routes they follow in any country’s airspace.
As such, in many countries, it is a requirement that telecom tower construction meets aviation industry requirements and also obtain clearance from not just telecom regulators, but aviation industry regulators.
Additionally, in Nigeria, the Civil Aviation Act of 2006 empowers the NCAA to prohibit or 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 regulatory code of the NCAA is that no one, 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 the regulation.
Now therefore, according to the NCAA, Glo and a few other telecom operators have failed to meet this regulatory standard for 7,000 telecom towers.
Telecommunications providers have implicitly demonstrated considerable compliance by duly obtaining the requisite height clearance from the authority except for these few defaulters.
Yet, the NCAA emphasises that letters have been sent and meetings have been held with erring telcos before now. In the absence of compliance, it is willing to use all powers available to it to remove the structures.
The aviation body won’t move swiftly though. According to its press release, the NCAA will move against these facilities if it receives no response from the erring telcos. We’re still awaiting the response of implicated telecom companies.
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