Airtel Raises alarm on impact of terror attacks, flooding
By Ikenna UGWU
Leading Telecommunications Services Provider, Airtel Nigeria has raised an alarm over the massive damage to its facilities caused by the relentless terror attacks on its installations in the North as well as the ravaging flood across the country.
These twin challenges, which have resulted unfortunately to loss of lives and property, have also led to loss of telecommunications equipment and an attendant degeneration of quality of service.
Airtel has, therefore, restated its call on the Federal Government to declare Telecoms Equipment as Critical National Infrastructure and also appealed to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to make the restoration of telecoms facilities in flooded areas a priority focus of its restoration plans.
Speaking to journalists in Lagos today (30/10/12) on a paper entitled Recent Developments Impacting Telecommunications Operations and Quality of Service in Nigeria, Mr. Osondu Nwokoro, Airtel’s Director of Regulatory Affairs & Special Projects, decried the menace of terror attacks on 53 installations, which has disrupted operations in 193 sites across the Northern part of Nigeria.
Mr. Nwokoro also lamented the devastating impact of the flooding in the Middle-Belt, South and Delta States, which has equally affected 32 installations and impacted on the overall operations of 41 sites across the region.
According to him, due to armed insurgency in parts of the North, the company’s network restoration and roll out of operations as well as the routine preventive 24hours maintenance of telecoms facilities have been totally stalled in Adamawa, Gombe, Kano, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe and Kaduna States. Similarly, flooding in Lokoja, Asaba, Ugheli- Patani and Patani-Elele have greatly damaged telecoms installations and led to further loss of sites and fiber capacities.
Expectedly, these disasters have resulted in spiraling costs of maintenance in affected locations to thrice the normal rate, consequently leading to colossal financial losses and dipping revenues.
Explaining that the impact of the disasters on telecoms operators is local, national and international in scope, Nwokoro bemoaned the fact that the loss of capacity occasioned by these threats often affects quality of service delivery and customer experience leading to a drop in key performance indicators.
According to him, this deplorable operational landscape is even made worse by the whimsical implementation of law and order issues in some states of the federation as construction workers on some locations across the country find it easy to maliciously severe fiber-optic cables that crisscross the land while operators hemorrhage from multiple and conflicting taxation and regulatory intervention.
Nwokoro, however, assured Nigerians and subscribers on the Airtel network that the company had taken decisive steps to mitigate the damage done to its facilities by sealing facility-sharing agreements with other telecom operators, engaging the services of highly efficient private security companies to protect its facilities as well as collaborating with security agencies to ensure maximum protection of telecom facilities across the country.
He added that Airtel is committed to providing quality service to telecoms consumers and is working tirelessly to restore facilities and services in affected locations.
He also called for expanded collaboration between the government and telecoms operators to tackle the persisting security threat to telecom installations and further emphasized the need for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to make the restoration of telecoms facilities in flooded areas an important focus of its rescue efforts.
The Airtel Regulatory Director also expressed the belief that it would be enormously helpful if the federal government would fast track the on-going arrangements for Critical national Infrastructure (CNI) to confer priority and protected status to telecom facilities in the country.