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Drop calls: Senate, Fashola slam NCC for defending telecom coys 

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The Senate Chamber

Senate and the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, on Wednesday came down heavily on the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC for openly protecting the telecoms companies over increasing cases of dropped calls which has robbed Nigerians of their hard earned billions of naira.

The attack took place at a public hearing on the increasing rate of drop calls and other unwholesome practices by telecom networks operators in Nigeria organised by the Senate and House of Representatives joint Committees on Communications, and Trade and Investment, in Abuja.

The NCC had accused the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing of contracting out construction of projects to contractors who cut cables of telecom companies, resulting to the drop calls.

NCC Director of Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Engr. B. Wakil, said that the telecoms service providers have become victims of multiple taxation by states and federal governments.

He also cited cases of cutting of cables and vandalisation of telecoms installations by criminals due to insecurity, adding that with the overstretched subscribers base, it is not easy for telecom service providers to provide the required capacity of infrastructure to adequately cover the country.

Wakil further blamed the state and federal government for the high cost of right of ways, saying that in some states, it is five thousand per meter, while it can be higher in some others.

He stated that in a particular month, they recorded 1,065  fiber cable cuts, even as he listed banditry, intermittent shutdown of service stations by state agents, border closure policy of government which hinders gas supply to installations in border communities, poor power supply, as part of the causes of drop calls, saying that such challenges happen only in Nigeria.

However, responding to the above claims by the NCC Director, Fashola, slammed the NCC, saying that government over the past twenty years have divested in state assets.

He said that laws have also been made within the period to  ensure adequate regulations, emphasizing that the leader of the regulatory agency has enormous powers and must have a different nationalistic mindset if it must succeed in the tax.

According to him, the defence of double taxation by the state and federal government on telecoms companies is ill-conceived, saying that such should not be coming from NCC that should regulate the companies.

He further dispelled the claim by NCC that there poor power supply to the telecoms companies, reminding the senate that telecoms companies were asked to purchase their powers directly from the generating companies and bypass the distribution companies, yet they refused.

The minister, who was visibly angry over the submissions made by the NCC, urged the senate to invite more technical people to help them understand what is actually happening with regards to the drop calls.

He revealed that at the onset of telecoms deregulation, the telecoms companies were asked to co-locate their cables, masts and installations, for better security, cheaper right of way and to avoid cutting of cables by contractors, but they refused and rather went to court to challenge government.

He said the head of the regulatory agency must be on the side of Nigerians, while encouraging investors, adding that this is where how the heads of such agencies are recruited should be taken seriously.

According to him, it is a question of service delivery and who is deliver it to Nigerians.

Speaking also, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central), slammed NCC for being on the side of the telecoms operatives, noting that the matter affects almost every Nigerians and no telecoms company accounts for the costs incurred by costumers from drop calls.

This, he said is not allowed in other countries, regretting that everything goes in Nigeria due to collusion between regulators and operators at the detriment of the poor Nigerians.

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