Telecoms companies lost N75bn to bombings, flooding – ALTON

Telecoms-towerMobile telecommunications network operators in the country have lost about N75bn to the continuous bombings of their infrastructure as well as flooding, which ravaged some parts of the country recently.

The Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, who spoke with our correspondent in an exclusive interview on Thursday, confirmed that at least 150 Base Transceiver Stations had been lost to bombings and flooding.

He reckoned that MTN, Airtel, Etisalat, Globacom, Starcoms, Helios Towers, IHS Towers and other telecoms operators affected by the twin disasters would have lost about N75bn at the cost of N500m per one BTS.

Terror group, Boko Haram, had a few months ago, started an onslaught on telecoms infrastructure, bombing telephone masts and offices of network operators.

The group’s grouse is that network operators aid security operatives in tracking down its members.

The onslaught continued on Saturday when two suicide car bombers attacked the offices of Airtel and MTN in the northern city of Kano, killing themselves and causing damage to the companies’ facilities.

In view of this, Adebayo said the huge losses incurred by telcos would affect their bottom line at the end of the current financial year.

Another implication of the attacks, according to him, is that network operators will spend the money initially budgeted for network expansion on replacing the damaged telecoms sites.

He said this definitely would have serious impact on quality of service, adding that any network glitch now could easily be attributed to the severe damage of telecoms infrastructure by terrorists and flooding.

The ALTON boss lamented the lack of insurance products against terror attacks and flooding.

Our correspondent gathered that the network operators could not recover any part of the affected BTS in locations where the base stations were submerged by flood.

The Executive Secretary, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Mr. Gbolahan Awonuga, confirmed that nothing could be recovered in sites affected by floods.

He explained that many BTS, generators and other equipment had been destroyed by flooding and there was nothing to be recovered.

Aside from the towers, Awonuga said nothing was left at BTS sites in the flood affected areas.

“This means that operators would have to replace the stations,” he said

Awonuga also told our correspondent that MTN, Globacom, Airtel, Etisalat, and the CDMA operators had concluded plans to ask for compensation from the Federal Government.

“We will send letters to the Ministry of Communications Technology, Nigerian Communications Commission as well as the Nigerian Trade and Investment Commission. I don’t think anybody will expect the operators to bear the loss alone,” he said.

Telecoms services were on Wednesday September 16, 2012 disrupted in Borno, Bauchi, Yobe, Gombe and Kano states following the bombing of base stations in the states by suspected terrorists.

Experts, who described the attacks as being detrimental to telecoms growth in the country, said they were suggestive of wilful damage by unscrupulous elements.

As a result, the quality of service in the affected states took a downturn as interconnection of telecoms infrastructure became severely limited.

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