Youths in the crisis ridden North East Nigeria have prevented telecoms operators from restoring service in the areas. Reports have it that repairs of base transceiver stations (BTS), cell sites and other telecom infrastructure damaged by Boko Haram, been halted by youth of the communities in the North-Eastern part of the country which have refused to allow workers access to the facilities. As a result, telecom services are yet to be restored to towns liberated by the military. Nigeria CommunicationsWeek reports that some operators have made efforts to repair some of the destroyed BTS but met resistance from indigenes of the affected towns.
The communities argued that it was the BTS that attracted Boko Haram fighters to their towns who came to destroy them as part of their campaign that everything western is bad. They added that Boko Haram fighters claimed that the military track them through BTS of telecommunications operators and that if the BTS are repaired to deliver communications service, it will become target for the insurgents which will invariably affect the host communities.
Our source who asked not to be named added that security of telecommunications infrastructure in the liberated towns cannot be guaranteed for now. He noted that, “As at today (Wednesday) tower operators have lost some 2,000 BTS in the Northeast to insurgency”. A base transceiver station (BTS) or cell site is the central nervous system of telecommunications allowing subscribers to make and receive calls and other services. But the facilities have become targets of insurgents especially in the northern parts seeking to impose Islamic rule in the region.
Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, ALTON had in a separate occasion, said that vandalism of telecom facilities are affecting the quality of service provisioning. Apart from attacks on BTS, other telecom equipment have suffered deliberate destruction by some persons across the country. Fiber optic cables are major building blocks in the telecommunication infrastructure because of their high bandwidth capabilities. But the damage being done to the telecommunications infrastructure is hampering efforts to provide robust ICT services.
Operators also warn that if urgent measures are not taken by government and other regulatory authorities, about $25 billion investments recorded in the sector so far will be seriously affected. As it is today, Nigeria still lacks major infrastructure and cannot afford preventable damages of its facilities as a result of government neglect and security lapses.