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Ghana’s Telecoms operators accuse road sector for unfair treatment over right to lay cables

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Ghana’s telecoms operators have expressed displeasure with what they call unfair treatment from government’s road sector institutions and road contractors with regard to right of way to lay their cables and fibre.

All the operators, except Airtel, are worried that during road construction, their cables and fibre are punctured and sometimes completely cut mistakenly but the road contractors refuse to accept responsibility to pay for repairs.

Representatives of some of the telcos who asked not to be named  said in separate exclusive interviews that part of the recent network challenges customers faced could be attributed to those cuts and punctures in their cables and fibres through no fault of theirs.

But they noted that a bigger challenge was the ‘unfair’ demand by the Ghana Highways Authority and the Feeder Roads Department on telcos to relocate some of their cables and fibres in parts of the country at the telcos’ own cost to make way for road works.

The representative of the telcos noted that they have paid for permits to lay their cables, fibres and to dock their PVC pipes in readiness for future cables and fibres, just like every other utility service providers like the water and electricity companies did.

They explained that these things were done at “right of way” meetings between the road sector institutions and all utility service providers ahead of road construction works to ensure that every sector had their right of way.

“When the water and electricity lines have to be relocated it is usually factored into the road construction cost and paid for by the government, but when telecoms cables, fibre and pipes have to be relocated the telcos are asked to bear the cost and we think that is unfair,” a spokesperson for one telco said.

They noted that the relocation involved hundreds of kilometers of cables in some cases and some could even cost more than the original cost of laying the cable and fibre.
“This is absolutely unfair to us telcos and definitely to our customers,” the spokesperson said.

Another telco’s representative said some of the rampant road works never came up in their meetings with the road sector institutions, and there was no futuristic development plan from those institutions to make the utility service providers aware of future road works and possible relocation of cables, fibres and pipes.

“Some of the road contractors threaten to cover our cables, fibres and pipes with concrete if we do not relocate them within a certain period, and that would make the cables and fibres inaccessible for repairs in times of damage,” that spokesperson said.

They said they would have been willing to work with such long-term plans if some existed because it would have been less expensive and less stressful.

Adom News can confirm that the telecoms operators have reported the matter to the Minister of Roads and Highways, Alhaji Collins Duada, through the Ghana Telecoms Chamber and the minister has promised to meet with all the telcos and the road sector institutions within the next two weeks to resolve the matter amicably.

The telecoms operator who spoke with Adom News expressed the hope that the Minister would ensure that the telcos were treated in the same way other utility services providers were treated with respect to relocation of cables, fibres and pipes and also for road contractors to pay for the repairs of punctured telecoms cables, fibres and pipes.

By Samuel Dowuona

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