23 April 2019

Nigeria: NCAA Threatens to Pull Down Over 7,000 Telcos Masts

Photo: Pixabay
file photo).

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has issued a 30- day ultimatum to Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) providers to comply with the statutory Aviation Height Clearance (AHC) or risk the pull down of their over 7,000 telecommunication masts and towers due to safety violation.

According to an official statement issued yesterday by NCAA, the action will be nationwide as it has been compelled to recourse to this line of action when the telecommunication providers has blatantly failed to obtain the statutory Aviation Height Clearance (AHC).

According to the agency, without Aviation Height Clearance, these masts and towers constitute danger to safety of air navigation.

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.

Furthermore, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) Part 12.1.7.1.3.1 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, some defaulters have failed to obtain the mandatory Aviation Height Clearance (AHC) from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) which is considered as a violation of safety Regulations.

Stating further, NCAA pointed out that several letters and entreaties sent to some of the GSM providers from the Authority were not responded to despite that they were duly received by the relevant executives and duly acknowledged.

In addition, Letters of Investigation (LOI) were written and delivered to them with no response recorded till date.

LEADERSHIP recalls that in a meeting with the director-general, early this year, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) members were candidly advised by the DG to ensure they obtain Aviation Height Clearance.

"This was to reiterate the need for all masts and towers erected in Nigeria to adhere to safety regulation and ensure safety of air navigation", the regulatory agency stated.

At the meeting, representatives of one of the GSM service providers were asked questions concerning their refusal to obtain Aviation Height Clearance Certificate. In response the delegates demanded to be furnished with the location of the masts. NCAA confirmed that a booklet containing the coordinates and location of the masts has since been made available to the organization.

"As a result of the meeting, some telecommunications providers have implicitly demonstrated considerably compliance by duly obtaining the requisite height clearance from the Authority except for these few defaulters. It is instructive to note that there are well over 40,000 masts and towers in Nigeria. Statutorily, all telecommunications operators should obtain Aviation Height Clearance (AHC) and ensured their annual validity.

"What this means is that defaulting GSM providers have been running their networks and providing inter-connectivity to millions of subscribers without Aviation Height Clearance Certificate thereby jeopardizing safety of air navigation. In Part 12.1.7.1.6. 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,"NCAA said.

The agency also emphasised that a 30-day ultimatum has therefore been given to defaulters in Nigeria to regularize their operations with NCAA forthwith. It added that, if there is similarly no response, NCAA will immediately embark on mass decommissioning and demolition of all their masts and towers in Nigeria.

It also assured that NCAA will continue to provide a level playing field for aviation and related services to thrive in Nigeria. "Much more importantly, safety and security of airline operations is critical and will not be compromised", the agency stated.

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