We Don’t Want The Next Mast To Fall Again Before We Take Action – Cross River Attorney General

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by crossriverwatch admin

Barrister Attah Ochinke, Attorney General, Cross River State
Barrister Attah Ochinke, Attorney General, Cross River State

Cross River Attorney General, Attah Ochinke convened a meeting in his office with telecom companies in the state over the move by the government to enforce compliance with the structural integrity policy by telecommunication companies operating in the state. He spoke with CrossRiverWatch after the meeting.

Excerpts:

CrossRiverWatch:

What is the rationale for the meeting?

Attorney General:

The meeting is in furtherance to the compliance and structural integrity audit committee set up recently with the task of conducting a compliance and structural audit for all telecommunication masts in the state necessitated by the Odukpani mishap where two people lost their lives. We can’t sit and watch. We will go to the end of that matter; we don’t want the next mast to fall again before we take action. We want to ensure that all the masts already built comply with the town planning and building regulations in the state to enable us take meaningful decision or it is demolished as an illegal structure, the ultimate aim is to ensure the safety of the people of Cross River State.

CrossRiverWatch:

What are some of the issues discussed in the meeting?

Attorney General:

The major issue is the modalities by which this audit will be conducted and what are the requirements the telecommunication companies will keep to in respect to every mast we have in the state, so what we’ve agreed is that within the next three weeks each telecom operator should submit with regards to every mast all the site plans, engineering drawings and designs and title documentation for every site that they have been operating. Upon this submission we will then commence a review of the documents submitted to see if they comply with the regulations under the building plan approval and after that we will conduct a site structural audit with regards to every site to truly ensure that they comply with the design and drawing submitted.

CrossRiverWatch:

About the Odukpani incident, have any steps been taken to ensure that those victims are properly rehabilitated?

Attorney General:

Well, I do know that those injured accessed medical attention not that it is enough for compensation for injuries and destruction but that is a matter that is currently under investigation, I would like to limit my comment to that but what I can tell you is that we are not satisfied with the reaction of the telecommunication company involve in it.

CrossRiverWatch:

What was their reaction?

Attorney General:

The telecom operators that attended are ready to cooperate and also to comply with the entire exercise, indeed it is for their interest that they comply because if the structure is illegal then the consequence of an accident are even higher, so it is cheaper for them to comply and ensure that whatever structure they have in the state comply with the law otherwise we have to declare them illegal structures but fortunately we had a very cordial meeting and we also agreed that at the end of this exercise, the process and procedure for issuance of approval for construction of masts will be straightened out and this will go to benefit the telecom operators because from then they will be cleared in regard to the requirement and further documentation will be made on each stage irrespective of the fact that they had done documentation before. But presently we are looking for all the approval they received before building in the site.

CrossRiverWatch:

Are you saying you are satisfied with their level of cooperation?

Attorney General:

Yes but not all attended.

CrossRiverWatch:

Which company was absent because in the radio announcement made on CRBC it says any company that fails to attend will be sanctioned, what are the sanctions?

Attorney General:

Sincerely speaking it will be difficult to say which didn’t attend because already it is difficult to say how many of them we have operating, though only Etisalat, MTN and GLO came. And the penalty is that we will go after the masts.

CrossRiverWatch:

What do you mean when you say you will go after the masts?

Attorney General:

We will shut down the operation of the mast and when we do that whoever is operating it will come up then the owners will be known but this is in respect to those not accounted for during or at the end of the exercise.

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