Safety: NCAA to demolish 700 masts on air ways, issues ultimatum

  •  Chides Globacom, others over non compliance
  • 40, 000 mast towers erected in Nigeria

Wole Shadare

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has given owners of masts erected on airways across the country 30 days to remove them or get them pulled down.

Consequently, over 7,000 telecommunication masts and towers belonging to  Globacom Limited and other Global System for Mobile Communications[GSM] providers pose serious safety risk to aviation and air travel.

The aviation regulatory body in a statement by its spokesman, Sam Adurogboye stated that the NCAA is compelled to take the action because the telecommunication providers  failed to heed warnings and plea to obtain the statutory Aviation Height Clearance (AHC].

He disclosed that without aviation height clearance, all the masts and towers constitute danger to 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 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 Aviation Height Clearance Certificate granted under this Regulation.

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Consequent upon this provision, the regulatory authority requires an Aviation Height Clearance (AHC) approval for every tower installation irrespective of the height and location.

Adurogboye noted that contrary to the above regulations, the promoters of GLO telecommunication and other defaulters failed to obtain the mandatory Aviation Height Clearance (AHC) from the NCAA which is considered as a violation of safety Regulations.

He explained that several letters and entreaties sent to Globacom Limited and these other GSM providers from the authority were not responded to despite that they were duly received by the relevant executives and duly acknowledged.

“In addition, Letters of Investigation (LOI) were written and delivered to them with no response recorded till date”, he added.

It will be recalled that in a meeting with the Director General of NCAA, Capt. Usman Muhtar, 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.

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 This was to reiterate the need for all masts and towers erected in Nigeria to adhere to safety regulation and ensure safety of air navigation.

“At the meeting, Globacom representatives were present and were asked questions concerning GLO’s refusal to obtain Aviation Height Clearance 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 telecommunications providers have implicitly demonstrated considerably compliance by duly obtaining the requisite height clearance from the Authority except for these few defaulters”, he added.

He noted that there are well over 40,000 masts and towers in Nigeria, stressing that statutorily, all telecommunications operators are expected to obtain Aviation Height Clearance (AHC) and ensure their annual validity.

“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 jeopardising safety of air navigation. In Part the Authority shall use all legal means of ensuring the removal of any structure which are erected or constructed without compliance with the provisions of these regulations”.

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He disclosed that thirty-day ultimatum had been given to Globacom Limited and these other defaulters in Nigeria to regularise their operations with NCAA forthwith.

He warned that if there is similarly no response, NCAA would immediately embark on mass decommissioning and demolition of all their masts and towers in Nigeria.

He hinted that the NCAA would 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.

Meanwhile the Director General, NCAA, Usman yesterday declared opened, the first of its kind,  three Day Training Workshop on  Risk Management organised by the International Civil Organisation [ICAO] for Aviation Security personnel drawn from NCAA, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria [FAAN] and Accident Investigation Bureau[AIB]

Wole Shadare