By OKUNADE ADEKUNLE
In its bid to unify the telecommunications cables in the state, the Lagos State House of Assembly has approved the request of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the state for a Unified Fibre Infrastructure and Connectivity Project under the state’s Public Private Law.
The project is being handled by Messrs Western Telecommunications And Engineering Services Metro Ltd.
The approval was sequel to the report of the House Committee on Public Private Partnership (PPP) presented by the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Lukmon Olumoh (Ajeromi/Ifelodun 1) during plenary on Thursday 14th May, 2020.
Hon. Lukmon Olumoh however, revealed during an interview with journalists that the project was about laying of fibres by the concerned company and that it had nothing to do with 5G or Coronavirus.
A letter signed by Governor Sanwo-Olu on the project had been read at plenary on Thursday 7th May, 2020 by the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, who committed it to the Committee on PPP for scrutiny before ratification of the House.
The letter was titled; “Request For Ratification by the Honourable House Of Assembly of the Lagos State Unified Infrastructure And Connectivity Project.”
The committee, according to Hon. Olumo, deliberated on the matter by inviting the Office of Public Private Partnership (OPPP) with some of their officials and the concessionaire.
The project, Olumo stated in the report would involve the deployment of unified fibre duct infrastructure for carrying telecommunications cables and other wired infrastructure to support operators of telecommunications and other relevant utilities, as well as provide infra and Connectivity requirements for Lagos State.
The agreement letter mandated implementation of a “Dig Once” policy in a bid to eliminate fragmentary and or constant digging of state roads and associated Rights of Way of Operators.
“The agreement further stipulates that the project partnership will last for an initial term of twenty-five (25) years, which may be extended by the parties, in writing, prior to its expiration or by effluxion of time, on mutually agreed terms and conditions.
“By agreement, the company is to pay to the state coffers a fee of ten (10) percent of the revenues generates from the lease of the ducts to operators.
“In addition, the company will also provide the State Government with duct capacity and dark fibre to Points Of Interest (POI) in accordance with agreed terms,” the Chairman said in the report.
The Committee however, concluded that “having put into consideration the requirements set down in Section 26 of the Lagos State Public Private Partnership Law, the Committee recommends that the State Government should enter into an agreement with Western Telecoms and Engineering Services Metro Ltd for the implementation of the contract for the Lagos State Unified Fibre Infrastructure and Connectivity project in accordance with the Public Private Law of the State.”
The report was subsequently taken as the decision of the House after debates by members of the House and a voice vote, which was supervised by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa.
Olumo added in the interview that PPP is Private Procurement in the Public Sector.
The lawmaker said that private people bring their investments to the state to fill some areas the government cannot cover because of scarce resources.
“Private people take over for a period of time, run it and turn it back to the government.
“This is an example, and it is the best thing to do. Even in the advanced world, most of the things they do are done on PPP basis so that the government can spend money on some other things such as health, education and the likes.
“The Lagos State Government is going in the right direction. This is the first in Nigeria and it is well planned because the committee actually dwelt on the whole issue to ensure that Lagos State is not cheated in the whole process.
“Apart from the state sharing in the profit, the company still paid right of way to the state government.
“All these are good for the state. It is better to allow people do what they can do in their area of specialisation,” he said.
Olumo added that the issue of 5G and Coronavirus came up during interactive sessions with the company and that they were told that it had nothing to do with 5G because it is just fibre that is laid and that Nigeria was not even ready for 5G in the next five years.
He said: “This one does not cause radiation and if it causes radiation at all, according to experts, it is less than what you get from radio frequency, it is about developing our infrastructure.
“It is just to unify all those cables that are buried by the telecommunications operators and pass through the cable.
“There would be a singular cable for all of the telecoms companies. It is about fibre network, it has nothing to do with 5G at all. We have been burying cables all around, it is the same cables that they want to bury. We just want to unify the cables.”