16th November, 2012
The Lagos State Government has threatened to begin dismantling masts belonging to telecom operators as they refuse to comply with the physical planning law on erection of masts.
The government said telecom operators had been erecting their masts indiscriminately in Lagos without obtaining approval permit from the Physical Planning and Urban Development Ministry and vowed that if they did not desist from such act, it would be forced to clampdown on them.
General Manager, Urban Furniture Regulatory Unit, UFRU, a unit under the Physical Planning Ministry, Mr. Joe Igbokwe said the body had written letters to telecom operators, internet providers and banks to furnish it with the details of their existing structures or installations “to enable us build a data base for administrative convenience.
“Most importantly, we need the information to enable us conduct integrity tests on these structures and to check whether they are fit to remain where they are. While the banks responded swiftly, the telecom operators, internet service providers and others, excluding Multilinks and Mobitel, have been playing games with us. Deceit, lies and misinformation have become their stock in trade. Hide and seek games have become the norm.”
Igbokwe, at a news conference in Lagos, southwest Nigeria, on Thursday said telecom operators had continued to violate the physical planning laws with impunity by building without permit as they failed to submit the lists of their installations and addresses to enable government create a data base for all installations.
“Let it be known that telecom operators will be deceiving themselves if they think the Ministry of Physical Planning laws can be challenged in court. While we will not stand on their way to the courts, we must warn the telecom operators not to take our present position as weakness or incapacity to act and perform our lawful duty.
“Telecom operators think they can hide under NCC to flout Lagos laws with impunity but they should be informed that Lagos can bite. You cannot mess with Lagos. No Nigerian company can do this in South Africa or Dubai or any other place in the world. They think they are bigger than the government,” he said.
According to Igbokwe, UFRU hopes that common sense would prevail now to avoid a situation where the unit would be forced to start dismantling their installations, including the mega base stations.
“We warn that no installation, operating within our regulatory mandate will be spared once we exert the full weight of our lawful responsibilities on recalcitrant telecom or other operators.
“We warn that we may resort to doing this as the last option to make the operators come to their senses. Governments make laws to create a decent society. Governments do not go about begging for the laws to be obeyed. Governments enforce laws when decent dialogue fails. UFRU will, therefore, enforce these laws to the letter because we have begged enough and we have appealed enough,” he stated.