By Dipo Olowookere
Leading independent fibre optic infrastructure and telecommunications services provider in Nigeria, Phase3 Telecom, has denied owing Federal Government the sum of N27.2 billion ($75.5 million) as being alleged.
The firm and Alheri Engineering Limited were accused of owing government the money over the fibre optic agreement entered into with Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
A statement issued by Phase3 yesterday described the claims as totally untrue and urged members of the public to disregard them.
In the statement, the company noted that despite deployment challenges, which include multi-year delays in linesmen allocation by TCN and devaluation/depreciation of the national currency; Phase3 has ensured that all undisputed payments such as total concession fee payment, royalties, and rental payment for equipment space to TCN were up to date.
It said though a dilapidated fibre optic network was inherited from TCN, the firm has, however, deployed a total of 2000km and installed state-of-art transmission equipment along with the rehabilitation of the existing fibre, which has seen concessionaires expend more than $100 million as capital and operating expenditure on the project.
Phase3 emphasised in the statement that the cause for unfounded allegations by TCN was due to its resistance of the harmonization of right of way charges for deployment of fibre optic cables as agreed and communicated by the National Economic Council towards affordable broadband services in the country.
It said this development has necessitated a review of the Right of Way (Row) charges for deployment of fibre optics on power lines (concession fees) to be at par with other RoW charges available in the telecom industry.
It affirmed that Phase3 has always honoured the terms of the concession agreement with TCN in line with kilometre of fibre available as well as market realities and most imperatively the contract review process towards ensuring the success of this project for the overall benefit of the country under the supervision of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), the regulatory agency saddled with the responsibility of the review process.
The statement strongly maintained that Phase3 has never and will never involve itself in such revolting act as defrauding TCN; as its unwavering commitment has always been to proffer affordable and robust service solutions that will see customers and other businesses rapidly leverage the opportunities of reliable broadband internet across Nigeria.
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