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N5.96bn debt: Agency set to decommission 7,012 masts



N5.96bn debt: Agency set to decommission 7,012 mastsThe Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has again threatened to decommission telecommunication masts belonging to operators that are indebted to the regulatory body.

Worst hit will be Globacom Nigeria Limited; whose alleged debt of N5.96 billion has put its 7,012 masts nationwide at risk.

The apex regulatory body for aviation, NCAA, had in 2019 issued a similar threat to decommission unlicensed telecom masts belonging to service providers, banks and financial institutions.

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (NigCARS) Part 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.

In line with this, the regulatory authority requires an Aviation Height Clearance (AHC) approval for every tower installation in the country irrespective of the height and location.

Under the Civil Aviation Act 2006, section 30(3) (1), the 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.

Officials of the NCAA hinted that Globacom had been non-committal to agreements and entreaties to offset the accumulated debt, “leaving the authority with no other option than to remove its masts.”

N5.96bn debt: Agency set to decommission 7,012 masts

NCAA, in a letter dated July 14, 2021, titled: “Illegal Erection of High Structures and Refusal to Renew Expired Aviation Height Clearance Certificates”, had drawn Globacom’s attention to its debts, as the network provider has not shown any indication or willingness to pay.

NCAA had alleged debts to include application fee at N100, 000 per mast, yearly renewal fee for 2007-2022 (15 years) at N50,000 per mast, and inspection fee covering 6,898 masts nationwide, all put at N6,064,230,000.

The document showed that the telecommunication network provider paid the sum of N100 million as its last payment deposit and with an outstanding of N5,964,230,000.

In another letter, dated October 4, 2021 to Globacom Nigeria Limited, NCAA threatened that following the failure by Globacom to pay the required fees amounting to N5.9 billion, it had no choice but to commence the dismantling of the masts nationwide without further notice.

“In this circumstance, having exhausted all avenues for a resolution of this matter, we are now left without choice but to apply the relevant sanctions, including the dismantling of all your non-compliant masts nationwide. And this shall be without further notice to you,” the memo read in part.

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