The Senate Panel and the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, on Wednesday came hard on the Nigerian Communications Commission for protecting the telecoms companies over increasing cases of dropped calls
The lawmakers and Minister carpeted the Management of NCC at a public hearing on the increasing rate of drop calls and other unwholesome practices by telecom networks operators in Nigeria.
The NCC had accused the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing of contracting out construction of projects to contractors who cut cables of telecom companies, resulting to the drop calls.
Speaking at the public hearing, the NCC Director of Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Engr. B. Wakil, claimed that service providers have become victims of multiple taxation by states and federal governments.
He also cited cases of cutting of cables and vandalisation of telecoms installations by criminals due to insecurity.
He added that with the overstretched subscribers base, it is not easy for telecom service providers to provide the required capacity of infrastructure to adequately cover the country.
Wakil further blamed the state and federal governments for the high cost of right of ways, saying in some states, it is N5,000 per meter, while higher in some others.
He stated that in a particular month, they recorded 1,065 fibre cable cuts, even as he listed banditry, intermittent shutdown of service stations by state agents, border closure policy of government, which hinders gas supply to installations in border communities, poor power supply as part of the causes of drop calls, saying such challenges happen only in Nigeria.
Angered by the NCC’s submission, Fashola slammed the NCC, saying government over the past 20 years have divested in state assets.
He said laws have also been made within the period to ensure adequate regulations, emphasising that the leader of the regulatory agency has enormous powers and must have a different nationalistic mindset if it must succeed in the task.
According to him, the defence of double taxation by the state and federal governments on telecoms companies is ill-conceived, saying such should not be coming from NCC that should regulate the companies.
FAshola further dispelled the claim by NCC that there was poor power supply to the telecoms companies, reminding the Senate that telecoms companies were asked to purchase their powers directly from the generating companies and bypass the distribution companies, yet they refused.
The Minister implored the Senate to invite more technical people to help them understand what is actually happening with regards to the dropped calls.
He revealed that at the onset of telecoms deregulation, the telecoms companies were asked to co-locate their cables, masts and installations for better security, cheaper right of way and to avoid cutting of cables by contractors, but they refused and rather went to court to challenge government.
He said the head of the regulatory agency must be on the side of Nigerians, while encouraging investors, adding that this is where how the heads of such agencies are recruited should be taken seriously.
According to him, it is a question of service delivery and who is to deliver it to Nigerians.
Also, Members of the Committee were surprised that NCC is backing the telecoms companies for increasing call drops.
Reacting to the submission of the NCC, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele carpeted the NCC for protecting the telecoms operatives.
Bamidele stated that the issue of dropped calls affected virtually every Nigerian and no telecoms company accounts for the costs incurred by costumers through such.
He added that the issue of dropped calls is not allowed in other countries, wondering how could NCC will be backing telecoms companies on the issue.