Patani, Danbatta, Fayemi meet over telecom RoW Bruhaha

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Danbatta, Pantami and Fayemi
Danbatta, Pantami and Fayemi

ISA Ali Ibrahim Pantami, minister of communications and Digital Economy, and Prof. Umar Danbatta, executive vice-chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC,  on Thursday, January 16, met with Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti State and chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, in Abuja.

There meeting was a follow-up to discuss how to address the issue of Right of Way, RoW, and other similar challenges confronting the telecoms industry.

Realnews reports that some state governments have refused to comply with the directive of the ministry of communications and digital economy on the charges for the right of way, RoW.

Seventy-two hours after Pantami wrote governors of the 36 states of the federation to comply with the N145 RoW charges,  about 14 States including Lagos, Kano, Anambra, Ondo, Cross River, Kogi, Osun, Kaduna, Enugu, Adamawa, Ebonyi, Imo, Kebbi and Gombe hiked the cost of Right of Way for telecoms infrastructure above the official N145 RoW charges.

Danbatta, Pantami and Fayemi in a meeting
Danbatta, Pantami and Fayemi in a meeting

The implication of the governors’ action is that telecom companies may have to increase the cost of voice and data services in other to remain in business and run a profitable venture. Should this happen, telecom subscribers will have to bear the brunt of the increase in the cost RoW.

This is certainly against the plan of the federal government to encourage “digital economy and ensure taxes and prices come down because when prices come down, demand goes up” and entrepreneurs make more profit by sheer increase in the volume of trade, the minister said on January 3, adding: “I have written to all the governors in Nigeria on the need to comply with the National Economic Council, NEC, resolution on the Right of Way, RoW

“All the governors had agreed to the harmonisation on the RoW charges and efforts are being made to ensure the policy is respected”, the minister said. The RoW charges is the levy paid to state governments for the laying of optic fibre by telecoms operators.

However, agencies and ministries of some of the states above have increased the cost of RoW from the initial fee of between N300 to N500 per linear metre to between N3,000 and N6,000 per linear metre. The cost of RoW on federal roads is N145 per linear metre.

Some of these agencies and ministries include the Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency, LASIMRA, State Information Technology Agency, SITA, of Ondo, Cross River State Infrastructure Safety and Regulatory Agency, CRISRA, Kogi State Environmental Protection Board, and Kano State Urban Planning and Development Authority.

Others are Kogi State Internal Revenue Service, KSIRS, Kaduna State Urban Planning, and Development Authority, KASUPDA, Osun State Ministry of Environment and Sanitation, Anambra State Internal Revenue Services, Enugu State Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, Adamawa State Ministry of Environment, Imo State Environmental Transformation Commission (Imo ENTRACO), Kebbi State Ministry of Environment and Solid Minerals and Gombe State Internal Revenue Board It was also learned that some of the states refused to collect the old rates for RoW and are no longer issuing RoW licenses in their various states.

For instance, the new management of the LASIMRA, recently increased RoW fee from N500 per linear meter to N5, 000 per linear meter. A single telecom operator needs RoW covering thousands of kilometres.

An official of LASIMRA said at the weekend that the new management of the agency would hold discussions with the telecoms operators to reach a common ground.

– Jan. 17, 2020 @ 14:05 GMT |

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