NIWA demands N1bn ‘right of way’ from MTN, others 

The National Inland Waterway Authority (NIWA) is demanding one billion naira from telecommunications operators as ‘right of way’ for their fibre optic cable that pass through government bridges.

The affected telecommunication operators include MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat.

The authority was established by National Inland Waterways Act No 13 of 1997 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, and saddle with responsibility, among other things, to improve and develop inland waterways for navigation.

The agency is also to ensure the development of infrastructural facilities for a national inland waterways network connecting the creeks and the rivers with the economic centres using the river-ports as nodal points for intermodel exchange and the development of indigenous technical and managerial skill to meet the challenges of modern inland waterways transportation.

The Director, Legal & Regulatory Affairs/ Company Secretary, Airtel Nigeria, Shola Adeyemi, said that the sum is demanded as right of way fees for fibre optic cables laid within the Federal Government’s Right of Way in Northern States inspite of the fact that similar fees had already been paid to the Federal Ministry of Works.

He said NIWA’s demand amounts to double taxation and multiple regulations for which stakeholders are seeking government intervention.

Adeyemi who was reacting to multiple taxation in the industry listed some of the its effect as including possible diversion of foreign direct investments to other jurisdictions considered more investor-friendly.

“Industry may not be able to adequately support law enforcement agencies to investigate crimes at affected locations. Probable barrier to broadband roll out with attendant adverse impact on internet penetration and services and unconventional tactics employed by the MDAs for the collection of the levies which result in damage and injury to operators’ staff and property.”

It would be recalled that telecommunications operators have decried situations where they are forced to pay taxes and levies that are not their statutory responsibilities. 

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