Internet and communication blackout looms in Nigeria as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) says it would be pulling down over 7,000 telecommunication masts and towers illegally erected by Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) for constituting threats to the safety of aircraft operations in the country.
Spokesman for the NCAA, Mr. Sam Adurogboye told journalists in Lagos that the regulatory agency is compelled to recourse to this line of action as the telecommunication providers “blatantly failed to obtain the statutory Aviation Height Clearance (AHC) required to erect such structures in the country.”
Most of the masts to be pulled down are erected on paths designed for the take-off and landing of aircraft.
“Without Aviation Height Clearance, all these masts and towers constitute danger to safety of air navigation and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations stipulates that no person or organization shall put up a structure (permanent or temporary) within the navigable airspace of Nigeria unless such a person or organization is a holder of Aviation Height Clearance Certificate granted under this regulation,” Aderogboye said.
“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,” he added.
The NCAA said some of the affected telecoms firms like GLO telecommunication had been written to, but without responses received from them on the issue to pull down the masts.
“A thirty-day ultimatum has therefore been given to Globacom Limited and these other defaulters in Nigeria to regularise their operations with NCAA forthwith,” said Aderugboye.
“However, if there is similarly no response, NCAA will immediately embark on mass decommissioning and demolition of all their masts and towers in Nigeria.
“What this means is that Globacom and these other defaulting GSM providers have been running their networks and providing interconnectivity to millions of subscribers without Aviation Height Clearance Certificate thereby jeopardizing the safety of air navigation,” Aderugboye added.
It will be recalled that in a meeting with the Director General of the NCAA early this year, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) members were 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 the safety of air navigation.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority said it will continue to provide a level playing field for aviation and related services to thrive in Nigeria. Much more importantly, the safety and security of airline operations is critical and will not be compromised.