By Olubunmi Adeniyi
The new Lagos rule is requesting telecoms operators to pay N3 million for new masts erected in the state as against N400, 000 paid for each with an annual 15 per cent renewal fee. Existing masts erected by operators will now attract N1 million.
The state government also increased to N3 million per base station, the rent paid by telecoms operators for Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) erected in the state.
The state’s Urban Furniture Regulatory Unit established by the Lagos Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development to regulate the activities of telecoms operators, internet service providers and banks, is making the new demand on masts and tower installations, the industry pressure group says.
Gbenga Adebayo, President of ALTON, notes that the hiked fee has compounded the problem of the difficult operating environment for operators in the country. It is further aggravated by the closure of sites by government agencies in many states across the Federation while the recent flood disaster rendered many sites inaccessible, he adds.
He recalls that last September, there were significant attacks and destruction of telecoms BTS and other infrastructure in some parts of Northern Nigeria.
“The impact of the attacks has been felt in other parts of the country, particularly in the North. The attacks have since limited the ability of millions of Nigerian subscribers to access telecommunications services.”
According to him, the incidents affected over 250 telecoms sites that lost connection and many suffered significant damage beyond repairs.
Adebayo also laments the incessant closure of operators’ base stations by state government agencies on account of non-payment of business permits, ground rent and environmental rent.
“We hereby draw the attention of the Federal Government and the general public to the continuous, incessant and unlawful closure of telecommunication facility sites by some individuals, communities and indeed, state authorities, in spite of the disasters that we face,” he adds.
According to him, it is noteworthy that the illegal closure of the sites always follows the objection of the affected members of ALTON to pay disputed fees levied by the agencies of state or local governments in the name of internally generated revenue.
“The unlawful taxes levied on our ALTON members run into several hundreds of millions of naira,” Adebayo adds.
The telecoms industry group says that its members are uncomfortable acceding to such unlawful demands adding that such demands also contravened the provisions of the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) under the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.