NCAA to demolish over 7,000 telecoms masts over violation of safety regulations

Posted by Sade Williams

Over 7,000 telecommunication masts and towers belonging to various Global System for Mobile Communications [GSM] providers  erected all over the country may soon be pulled down, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), has said.

The NCAA said it is compelled to recourse to this line of action when the telecommunication providers has blatantly failed to obtain the statutory Aviation Height Clearance (AHC).

A statement signed by Sam Adurogboye, NCAA spokesman, said without Aviation Height Clearance, all the masts and towers constitute danger to safety of air navigation.

He explained that 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 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 the telecommunication companies and other 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”, he said.

He explained that several letters and entreaties sent to the GSM providers from the Authority were not responded to despite that they were duly received by the relevant executives and duly acknowledged.

It will be recalled 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.

At the meeting, he said Telecoms representatives were present and 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. A booklet containing the coordinates and location of the masts has since been made available to the organisation.

“As a result of the meeting, other 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 these companies and 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 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 thirty-day ultimatum has therefore being given to the defaulters in Nigeria to regularise their operations with NCAA forthwith.

“However, if there is similarly no response, NCAA will immediately embark on mass decommissioning and demolition of all their masts and towers in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (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”, he stated.

Meanwhile the Director General, Capt Muhtar Usman on Tuesday 23rd April, 2019 declared opened, the first of its kind,  Three Day Training Workshop on  Risk Management organised by the International Civil Organisation [ICAO] for Aviation Security personnel drawn from NCAA, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria [FAAN] and Accident Investigation Bureau [AIB].

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