The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has issued Globacom Limited and other Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) operators 30 days ultimatum to remove their over 7, 000 masts or risk seeing them demolished.
According to NCAA, the masts, erected at different locations within the country close to the nation’s airports, are obstructing flight safety and can cause accidents if not removed.
A statement by Sam Adurogboye, the General Manager, Public Affairs, NCAA, stated that the regulatory body had written to the different GSM operators, including Globacom, to remove the masts, but they blatantly refused to do so.
Adurogboye also said the companies failed to obtain the statutory Aviation Height Clearance (AHC) from NCAA, stressing that without AHC, all the masts and towers constitute danger to safety of air navigation.
He insisted that under the Civil Aviation Act, 2006, Section 30(3) (1), NCAA is empowered to prohibit and regulate the installation of any structure, which by virtue of its height or position is considered to endanger the safety of air navigation.
He added: “Furthermore, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) Part 220.127.116.11.3.1 stipulates that no person or organisation shall put up a structure (permanent or temporary) within the navigable airspace of Nigeria unless such a person or organisation is a holder of Aviation Height Clearance Certificate granted under this regulation.
“Consequent upon this provision, the regulatory authority requires an Aviation Height Clearance (AHC) approval for every tower installation irrespective of the height and location.
“Contrary to the above regulations, the promoters of GLO telecommunication and these other defaulters have failed to obtain the mandatory Aviation Height Clearance (AHC) from NCAA, which is considered as a violation of safety regulations.”
He declared that several letters and entreaties from NCAA to Globacom Limited and other GSM providers were not responded to, despite that they were duly received by the relevant executives and duly acknowledged.
He insisted that Letters of Investigation (LOI) were written and delivered to all the concerned organisations, but no response recorded till date.
The statement recalled that in a meeting with the Director-General, NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman, early this year, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) members were candidly advised to ensure they obtain Aviation Height Clearance.
Adurogboye said that this was to reiterate the need for all masts and towers erected in the country to adhere to safety regulation and ensure safety of air navigation.
“At the meeting, Globacom representatives were present and were asked questions concerning GLO’s refusal to obtain Aviation Height Clearance Certificate. In response the delegates demanded to be furnished with the location of the masts. A booklet containing the coordinates and locations of the masts has since been made available to the organisation," he continued.
“As a result of the meeting, other telecommunications providers have implicitly demonstrated considerable compliance by duly obtaining the requisite height clearance from the authority except for these few defaulters."
Adurogboye expressed that there are over 40,000 masts and towers in Nigeria, stressing that statutorily, all telecommunications operators should obtain AHC and renew their annual validity, but the owners of over 7,000 masts have refused to comply.
“What this means is that Globacom and these other defaulting GSM providers have been running their networks and providing interconnectivity to millions of subscribers without Aviation Height Clearance Certificate thereby jeopardising safety of air navigation.
“In Part 18.104.22.168.6. the authority shall use all legal means of ensuring the removal of any structure which are erected or constructed without compliance with the provisions of these regulations. A 30-day ultimatum has therefore been given to Globacom Limited and these other defaulters in Nigeria to regularise their operations with NCAA forthwith."
The statement hinted that if there was no response within the stipulated period, NCAA would immediately embark on mass decommissioning and demolition of all the masts and towers in Nigeria.
He assured that NCAA would continue to provide a level playing field for aviation and related services to thrive in Nigeria, without jeopardizing safety, which he described as critical