Compensate Our Displaced Members in North East – ALTON

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Gbenga Adebayo
Gbenga Adebayo

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The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria wants the federal government to compensate its members who have been displaced from the crisis ridden North East where their equipment have been damaged due to Boko Haram insurgency

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Oct 19, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT  |

THE Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, ALTON, is urging the federal government to extend its compensation for the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, to telecommunications operators in the country. ALTON said telecom operators should be compensated for the losses they incurred in the north-east through the activities of Boko Haram.

Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, ALTON, said as the country has internally displaced people, so also it has internally displaced telecom operators affected by Boko Haram activities. “It is sad that nobody is talking about the service providers that lost several millions of naira to destruction of their infrastructure,” he said, adding, that the government should compensate the service providers to enable them go back and repair the damaged sites in the affected states.

Adebayo said effort was being made to meet with relevant authorities to resolve the issues, decrying continuous vandalism and closure of operators’ base stations which has impacted negatively on quality of service delivery by operators. “Unfortunately, our regulator has not taken enough responsibility of the problems in the industry, rather, allowing operators to face these problems alone. We discovered that despite the penalties and sanctions the issue of quality of service is still the same. We operate one network in all networks.

“If one operator is down it affects all because of the interconnection agreement between them.  There are some factors responsible for the poor quality of service and until government or the regulator do something about them, we shall continue to have issues in terms of quality of service.  The issue must be addressed by the government.  There is no reason why a state would charge for Right of Ways, as benefit derives by states from telecom services is higher than the Right of Way they charge,” he said.

Adebayo further explained that the cost of securing ‘right of way’ for network rollout accounts for 60 percent of the total cost outlay. He noted that telecommunication is the most functional infrastructure that we have in the country today. “It has become part of our citizenship in terms of access. We have been able to provide uninterrupted telecom access in the country in spite of the various challenges, as such we deserve praise. Telecommunications is driving success of other sectors of the economy such as banking among other. The time has come for Nigerians to appreciate telecom operators.”

ALTON, however, called on the National Assembly to pass into law the National Critical Infrastructure bill. The passage of the bill, he said would now protect the telecom infrastructure and put the problem to rest. He said telecom operators’ infrastructures in the country must be protected.

It should be recalled that in 2012 telecom operators in the country lost more than N1.03 billion to Boko Haram insurgency. It was reported that the terrorist group bombed 26 base stations belonging to various telecom companies operating in the region.

ALTON threatened to withdraw its services. It stated that “If it becomes impossible to continue to do business in the face of rising attacks on telecoms sites, operators will naturally suspend operations in the area. This is because beyond base stations, these elements may begin to target telecoms operators’ offices and data centres among other key infrastructure. That is why it is important that the situation is curtailed before it gets to that point.

“During military coups, dissidents attack newspaper and television houses as well as telecommunications centres and infrastructure to destabilise the government. This is not different from what we are experiencing now as people’s phones can’t be reached in the affected areas,” he said. Apart from the GSM operators, CDMA firms are also affected by the Boko Haram attacks.

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