Speaking on behalf of the telecos at a press briefing in Lagos on Thursday, Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), gave the Federal Government seven days to act.
Adebayo said the seizure of cellular sites in Kogi, concerns about degrading quality of services in Abuja, high cost of diesel, inflation and safety of telecom workers are the issues presently bedevilling the telecom industry.
ALTON chairman said all the telecom operators had expressed their concern about the shutting down of telecommunications facilities in Kogi State because of disputes arising from taxes and levies demanded by the Kogi State Government through the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KIRS).
“The action by KIRS was hinged on an ex parte court order obtained by the KIRS over unsubstantiated allegations that our members are in default of tax payments to the state government (which is not the truth) and access to these critical telecom sites has been denied.
“This issue is likely to lead to a total communications blackout in the entire Kogi State, parts of Abuja the Federal Capital Territory and possible impact on service availability in some parts of the following States: Nassarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara, Niger States.
“These are States sharing borders with Kogi State’’, the ALTON’s chairman, who also doubles as the joint spokesman for all the telecom operators, said.
He also said the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), the office of the Director for Signage & Advertisement has refused to grant telecommunication service providers a permit to build infrastructure in the Federal Capital City.
This, he said, is affecting the quality of services around FCT and Abuja.
He said: “The problem is created by the governing authority in the FCT. Telecommunications services drive on the terrestrial infrastructure.
“We hereby call on the Federal Executive Council to prevail on the FCDA in granting approval/permit to our members to deploy infrastructure.
“ALTON and its members will no longer tolerate discriminatory charges against the sector. The industry is planning to begin a study on varying tariffs to some of the unfriendly telecommunications States in other to accommodate their demand’.”
ALTON also expressed concerns about the rising cost of diesel and its implications on the general high cost of business.
Adebayo said: “We are concerned that unless there is an intervention to save this sector, operators will have no choice but to begin a process of price review.
“The state of security in our country is of concern, while we commend all our security agencies for the work they do to keep us all safe, the impact of the general state of security in the country is that we are not able to provide 24/7 support in certain areas as it is unsafe to send out service personnel to some parts of the country and to other at certain times of the day.”