Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) operators in Nigeria have been warned to immediately remit to the coffers of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) all the debt arrears owed it by the operators.

NCAA threatened that any of the GSM operators who refused to pay all the outstanding would be sanctioned in accordance with the law.

This is as Captain Muhtar Usman, the Director-General of NCAA, frowned at the umbrella body of GSM operators in the country, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), for directing its members not to pay its outstanding debts until “all grey areas are settled”.

It was not however clear the exact amount of money the GSM operators owed the agency, but it was gathered that it ran into several millions of naira.

A statement issued on Wednesday by Sam Adurogboye, the General Manager, Public Affairs of NCAA, warned GSM operators with arrears of payments to remit such without further delay to avoid sanction.

Adurogboye said at a meeting with the GSM operators at the agency’s headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, Usman called on all telecom operators who were yet to remit their outstanding payments to NCAA to do so without further delay.

The statement quoted the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (Establishment) Act, Section 7(1) (n), which empowered it to prohibit and regulate the installation of any structure by virtue of its height or position considered to endanger the safety of air navigation.

He emphasised that pursuant to the above provision, NCAA required an Aviation Height Clearance (AHC) approval for every high-rise structure, mast, tower installation, irrespective of the height and location.

Adurogboye quoted the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) Part 12.1.7.1.11, as stating that: “The AHC shall remain in force for a period of one year when it shall be due for renewal unless suspended or cancelled by the authority. Similarly, the holder of an AHC certificate shall ensure proper records of AHC granted to it and the renewal of the AHC at least 30 days to the expiry date.”

Adurogboye stated that part of the grey areas were that AHC should be a one-off exercise, no renewals and structures for AHC should be selective, stressing that not all high-rise masts were deemed to endanger air navigation.

However, this position canvassed by ALTON, did not go down well with Usman, describing the directive of the association to its members to cease payments until when all matters related had been resolved.

He stated that Usman, therefore, espoused all relevant statutes that bequeathed NCAA the authority to render such services, and recover costs associated.

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

According to Usman, Nig.CARs Part 12.1.7.1.12 reads: “The authority shall carry out surveillance inspection of existing structures 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.”

He explained that with this, there was a compulsory continuity in surveillance inspection of existing structures within the Nigerian airspace to ensure sustenance of safety of air navigation.

In his remarks, Gbenga Adebayo, the ALTON President, appreciated the engagement, and requested for a bilateral committee consisting of officials of both NCAA and ALTON to be established to hold periodic meetings for a smooth working relationship.

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