Minister of Communication Adebayo Shittu

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

Telcos in Nigeria have heaved a sigh of relief as the National Economic Council (NEC) has approved a policy to harmonize right of way (RoW) charges payable by them and related public utility infrastructure on local governments, states and federal highways.

The Minister of Communication Adebayo Shittu briefed State House correspondents at the end of the NEC chaired by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, stressing that the new policy will encourage co-location of the companies’ optic cables fibre  (OFC).

Just like the telecommunication masts which were harmonised after long years of defacing the environment, he said the government wants to harmonise the laying of (OFC), which is becoming a burden on the Nigerian roads just as that of masts was addressed via co-location.

This development, Shittu lamnted is causing high cost tariffs due to multiple taxes charged telcos by all the three tiers of government in the federation.

Shittu said the new policy document will minimise the spaces occupied, burden on the roads and reduce taxes payable by telcos.

"The memo spelt out roles/responsibilities of LGCs, states and telecoms operators in the management of RoW issues.

"Most states are still charging different and higher rates, despite NEC’s resolution that mandate States ts adopt and implement Federal Ministry of Works guidelines for grant of Right of Way to ICT service on Highways.

"Current practice in Nigeria where various telecommunication operators design, survey, dig, deploy and manage their individual fibers networks amounts to duplication of efforts, multiple earthworks and treaches as well as increased administrative and licensing costs.

"The Memo invited all stakeholders to consider, adopt and approve the use of shared duct strategy, managed by a designated Agency in all tiers of government for the deployment of public utility infrastructure for effective and efficient service delivery and accelerated socio economic development of the country, particularly the transformation of our various cities, towns and villages to a smart status.

"Council asked the Ministry of Communication to liaise with the States and relevant stakeholders for the smooth implementation of the RoW project," Shittu told reporters.      


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