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‘Stop demolishing mobile towers!’

By , Editor, ITWeb Africa
Nigeria , 30 Jul 2012

‘Stop demolishing mobile towers!’

Nigeria’s Urban Furniture Regulatory Unit (UFRU) has come under fire in that country for tearing down what it deems to be ‘weak’ and ‘unauthorised’ mobile phone towers in Lagos State.

Collapsing towers, which endanger peoples’ lives and properties, have become a common occurrence in Nigeria, according to the Lagos State government.

Subsequently, the state’s administration setup the UFRU with the task of regulating the activities of telecoms operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in terms of the quality of their mast and tower installations.

And during July, the UFRU has been aggressively carrying out its mandate by pulling down towers it deems to be ‘substandard’.

But the move has drawn the ire of Nigeria’s National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers, (NATCOMS), which described the actions of UFRU in Lagos State as ‘illegal’.

The president of NATCOMS, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, in a statement said UFRU’s moves have actually severely limited telecommunication signals in the affected areas.

“Just imagine in a moment of security challenges such as discovery of [a] planted bomb, kidnapping, rioting, armed robbery siege, medical emergency, earth tremor etcetera; when those distress calls need to be made, and the BTS (base transceiver stations) are no longer there to relay the signals, the ensuing perils would be worse.

“Installation of BTS has a procedure regulated by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and this is to guarantee the safety of the infrastructure and the people living around it, and the environment,” he said.

He further warned that if the actions by UFRU continued, NATCOMS could carry out legal action against Lagos State.

The government’s move to tear down substandard towers also comes at a time when mobile operators in that country have come under increased pressure for issues such as dropped calls and a lack of network coverage.

The NCC even went as far this year to issue a combined fine of $7.38 million to four mobile operators - MTN, Globacom, Etisalat and Bharti Airtel - for poor service.

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