- TCN accuses firm of flaunting court order
- We own fibre optics, Phase3 says
The stability of the national electricity grid is being threatened as fibre optics on transmission towers are in use for telecommunication services by Phase3 Telecom rather than to monitor the national grid.
The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) cancelled a 15 year fibre optics network concession contract it had with Phase3 Telecoms and Alheri Engineering Company Limited in January 2018 after it claimed the firms underperformed and had paid only $3.5 million of the $40m concession fee since they took over the assets in 2006.
A situation report addressed to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), said both firms had challenged the cancellation in court with the firms securing a court injunction to stay action.
The report exclusively obtained by Daily Trust yesterday stated that TCN appealed against the order but despite, that Phase3 Telecom had continued with a lower court’s injunction to gain access to the stations and continue their services since last week.
According to the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme (TREP) document of TCN obtained by our reporter, Nigeria has failed three time at procuring functional Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system (SCADA) because the fibre optics that enable real-time communication to monitor the vast electricity networks are being used by the telecoms firm.
TCN had said various system collapses of the power grid has been traced to the use of the fibre optics on the transmission towers for telecommunication services rather than for real-time grid monitoring through a robust SCADA.
Power sector experts privy to the situation said in March 2018, a system collapse on the national grid that cut short over 1,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity was traced to the activities of Phase 3 telecom on several 330KV lines of TCN in the Lagos region.
The public utility firm in the report said it involved the State Security Services to probe the network tampering and that the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola directed that the three suspects and staff of Phase3 telecom be prosecuted.
Phase3 returns to TCN stations
TCN said while it waited for action from the security agency on the suspects as the case was pending at the Court of Appeal, it was shocked that Phase3 Telecom along with armed personnel of DSS on October 8, 2018 went to gain access to the fibre optics assets at TCN substation in Keffi in Nasarawa state, Katampe in Abuja and Suleja in Niger state.
According to TCN Phase3 Telecom said it had the backing of the Office of the AGF and the Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami. The transmission firm in the document appealed to the AGF to intervene on the issue for lasting resolution.
“Our clients respectfully demand that the men of the DSS and the personnel of Phase 3 be removed from all TCN’s offices, installations and power stations across the country pending the determination of their application for stay of execution at the Court of Appeal,” the document stated.
Responding to the Daily Trust enquiries yesterday, the Head of Corporate Communications at Phase3 Telecom, Morayo Nwabufo said Phase3 owns the fibre optics which it only ran on TCN towers.
The company also confirmed that it gained access into some stations of TCN to continue its services in obedience to the court order on stay of execution pending the outcome of the court hearing.
Morayo said the case was before the court and that she won’t comment further on the contract operations and the investments saying: “Because the matter is before the court, we are a bit hand-tied to talk too much about this in this regard.”
We own fibre optics, not TCN – Phase 3
The company also said contrary to other claims, it owns the fibre optics and only entered a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to run the equipment on the power lines of TCN for security reasons.
She said: “You need to understand that what we are making use of is the TCN utility which is a federal government utility. The fibre optics in itself belongs to Phase3 Telecom what we did is that we run the fibre optics on power lines and that is because they are much more secure, effective and safer to run on power lines.
“We are the one running the fibre optics on the utility of the federal government of Nigeria, not the other way round and in terms of revenue growth for fibre optics, we have brought in a lot into the industry and into the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement,” Morayo explained.
Phase3 Telecom provides broadband Internet Protocol (IP) to a range of government departments, enterprises and homes in Abuja to include MTN, Airtel, Glo, Smile, NSCIA and the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (Works Sector), it wrote on its website.