By Kunle Adedoyin
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is to demolish over 7,000 telecommunications masts belonging to Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) providers erected across the country.
Mr Sam Adurogboye, General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, in a statement issued on Tuesday, said the NCAA was compelled to recourse to this line of action due to the failure of the telecommunications providers to obtain the statutory Aviation Height Clearance (AHC).
He said the NCAA had, therefore, issued a 30-day ultimatum to the defaulters to obtain the AHC, otherwise, their masts and towers would be demolished.
He said without Aviation Height Clearance, all these masts and towers constitute a danger to the 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 22.214.171.124.3.1 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 AHC Certificate granted under this Regulation.
“Consequent upon this provision, the regulatory authority requires an AHC approval for every tower installation irrespective of the height and location,” he stated.
Adurogboye noted that the affected telecommunications providers had however failed to obtain the AHC from the NCAA and had thus violated the safety regulations. This, he said, was despite several letters and entreaties sent to them.
“In addition, Letters of Investigation were written and delivered to them with no response recorded till date.
“It will be recalled that in a meeting with the Director General, early this year, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria members were candidly advised by the DG to ensure they obtain AHC.
“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,” he said.
Adurogboye said at the meeting, representatives of the companies were present and were asked questions concerning their refusal to obtain AHC 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 telecommunication 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 AHC and ensure their annual validity.”
The NCAA spokesperson maintained that the failure to obtain the AHC jeopardized the safety of air navigation.
“In Part 126.96.36.199.6, the authority shall use all legal means of ensuring the removal of any structure which is erected or constructed without compliance with the provisions of these regulations.”
Adurotoye stated that a 30-day ultimatum has been 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 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 said.