IT stakeholders lament state govts’ right of way charges 

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Stories by Bukola Olanrewaju

The telecommu-nication operators and Service providers in Nigeria have condemned State Government over the abuse of Right of Way charges in their various states.

This was made known by the Information Communication Technology (ICT) stakeholders’ Nigeria com event held in Lagos recently.

According to them, the outrageous way by which state governments charge Telecommunication Operators and Internet Service Providers for Right of Way is alarming.

The Chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Engr Gbenga Adebayo stated that the impediment to access and deployment of ICT infrastructures to the rural areas is not farfetched.

He attributed the failure to the exploitative manner by which the state governments deal with them.

“Some states are physically dependent on the revenge from the center, any other building of infrastructure be it road or telecom will be seen as an opportunity for extraction which makes things difficult.

“Lagos tend to be charging N500P/m while Kwara is charging N6500P/m, doing the analysis,  Right of Way in those states constitutes over 70per cent of the cost of building the infrastructure which is too harsh on the business “, Adebayo said.

Agitating over the lack of an harmonised rate for Right of Way despite previous agreement, the General Manager, Information Technology and Billing, Swift Network Limited, Mr.  Ikem Emelieze pointed that the absent of political willpower is Lacking.

“It is so depressing to keep complaining over the Right of Way issue. Spending a lot of time on the basis is damaging as the world is moving faster and we are way behind.

“The Government is aware of this. They know what is going on and what to do but the political will to do it is so lacking”, Emelieze said.

Calling Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to order, Adebayo noted that “NCC approach to this is positive but also a bit reactive”.

He moved for the complete removal of Right of Way Charge as Federal and State governments are using it as a way to extort telcos and generate funds.

“Right of Way should be granted for free, access to right of way should be free, network operators should not be charged until after deployment, you can then begin to charge upon consumer usage.

Earlier the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta had posited that telecom operators will now be required to pay N145 per metre to lay fibre cable anywhere in the country.

In the report, Danbatta added that charging high and arbitrary charges are disincentive to investment in the telecommunications sector.

He then said, “We need to build at least 80,000 Base Transceiver Station sites to close access gaps and improve quality of service, but ecosystem issues are holding back investments.

“As industry regulator, the NCC finds this situation both unacceptable and unsustainable. We are pleased to note that several efforts are ongoing to arrest these challenges, some at the very highest levels of government.”

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