NCAA to sanction telecoms operators over debt

The Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt Muhtar Usman, has said the agency will sanction telecoms operators who failed to pay their debt to it.

Under the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (Establishment) Act, Section 7(1) (n), 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, such as masts.

According to Usman, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) Part also empowers the NCAA to carry out surveillance inspection of existing structure within the Nigerian airspace, on aerodrome or off aerodrome to ascertain the compliance level of the structures with safety measures in terms of painting, markers, lightings and approved heights for the structures.

At a meeting with the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, on Wednesday, Usman stated that relevant statutes had empowered the NCAA to render such services, and recover associated costs.

“With this, there is a compulsory continuity in surveillance inspection of existing structures within the Nigerian airspace to ensure sustenance of safety of air navigation,” he said.

Although the DG did not state how much was owed the agency, he, however, stated that all operators with arrears of payments should endeavour to remit such without further delay to avoid sanction.

He said, “The Nig.CARs Part stipulates that, the authority shall use all legal means of ensuring the removal of any structure(s) which are erected or constructed without compliance with the provision of these regulations.

“Therefore, pursuant to the above provision, the regulatory authority requires an Aviation Height Clearance approval for every highrise structure, mast, tower installation, irrespective of the height and location. According to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) Part, the AHC shall remain in force for a period of one (1) year when it shall be due for renewal unless suspended or cancelled by the authority.”

He explained that the holder of an AHC certificate should ensure proper records of the AHC granted to it and its renewal at least 30 days to the expiry date.

ALTON had requested for a meeting with the DG to resolve certain perceived grey areas.

Inclusive in the grey areas are that AHC should be a one-off exercise, without renewals and that structures for AHC should be selective, particularly if it is not deemed to endanger air navigation.

Usman, however, frowned on what he described as the illegality of the directive by the association to its members to cease payments until all matters related to the issue had been resolved.

He said the NCAA as a law-abiding organisation had been reluctant to review the fees for so many years even when the reality at the inception of the charges had considerably changed.

He added that the agency would continue to demonstrate zero tolerance for non-adherence to safety requirement as enshrined in the Civil Aviation Regulations, adding that sundry violations would be viewed seriously.

The President of ALTON, Mr Gbenga Adebayo, said there was a need for the establishment of a bilateral committee consisting officials of both the NCAA and ALTON for periodic meetings to ensure a smooth working relationship.