The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has urged federal government to intervene in the seizure of towers belonging to Telecom operators in Kogi State and degrading quality of service in FCT among other harsh operating environment operators face.
Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman, ALTON, made the call at a media briefing in Lagos yesterday, said that the shutting down of telecommunications facilities in Kogi State is because of disputes arising from unusual taxes and levies demanded by the Kogi State Government through the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KIRS).
“The action by KIRS was hinged on an ex-parte court order obtained by the KIRS over unsubstantiated allegations that our members are in default of tax payments to the state government (which is not the truth) and access to these critical telecom sites has been denied.
“This issue is likely to lead to a total communications blackout in the entire Kogi State, parts of Abuja the Federal Capital Territory and possible impact on service availability in some parts of the following States: Nassarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara, Niger States. These are States sharing borders with Kogi State.
“As a result of these actions by the state government, our members are unable to refuel the power generators nor provide any support or maintenance services in these sites, a situation which has currently resulted in the outage of over 70 sites including hub sites across parts of Kogi State.
“The impact of these outages will gradually spread to the states mentioned above and if no action is taken within the next few days, a total outage of telecommunication sites in all these states will be catastrophically experienced.
“We are very concerned that this indiscriminate action has the potential of further leading to a total telecommunications outage in Kogi State with neighboring states and parts of the Federal Capital Territory adversely impacted.
“To the best of our knowledge, our members have settled all statutory levies and taxes due to the Kogi State Government and have taken necessary steps to comply with local laws that govern business activities within Kogi State,” he said.
Degrading Quality of Service in Abuja
Adebayo decried the refusal of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), office of the Director for Signage & Advertisement to grant telecommunication Service Providers permit to build infrastructure in the Federal capital city.
According to him, “this is affecting the quality of services around FCT and Abuja. The problem is created by the governing authority in the FCT. Telecommunications services drive on the terrestrial infrastructure. We hereby call on the Federal Executive Council to prevail on the FCDA in granting approval/permit to our members to deploy infrastructure.
He stated that ALTON and its members will no longer tolerate discriminatory charges against the sector.
“The industry is planning to begin a study on varying tariff to some of the unfriendly telecommunications States in other to accommodate their demand. Those States that are requesting for nonstatutory levies and taxes are the one being subsidized by some viable States”.
Rising Cost of Diesel and Safety Telecom Workers
ALTON expressed concerned over the rising cost of diesel and its implications on the general high cost of business.
“We are concerned that unless there is an intervention to save this sector, operators will have no choice than to begin a process of price review. The state of security on our country is of concern, we commend all our security agencies for the work they do to keep us all safe, the impact of the general state of security on the country is that we are not able to provide 24/7 support in certain areas as it is unsafe to send out service personnel to some parts of the country and to other at certain times of the day.
“We join in the call to Government to do a lot more to keep the nation safe and keep our worker safe.
“We reaffirm our commitment to working with the security agencies in order the necessary support for national security for which we now need protection from sub-national government and agencies to stop the interference of smooth operations of telecom services,” he added.