FEC okays national duct policy to mitigate damage of infrastructures

The Federal Executive Council has approved a national duct policy to check network providers laying cables indiscriminately, across national infrastructures and destroying them in the process.

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isah Pantami gave the information on Wednesday, after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, at the State House, Abuja.

Describing the memo presented at FEC as National Duct One Policy, he explained that the policy which scaled through aims at institutionalizing the provision of ducts during construction in Nigeria, at federal, state and even local government.

According to him, it is the global best practice that before construction, even during the conceptualization design, there should be a provision of ducts for road construction, bridges, rail lines, sea ports, and any important building.

Lamenting the situation, he said: “Nowadays, we are confronted with a challenge that whenever we want to provide telecommunications infrastructure, in some cities and towns in Nigeria, a lot of damage is being done, either to our roads or to our facilities.

“Why? because during the design and construction, no provision of any duct or pipeline where the fibre optics and other telecommunication gadgets will pass. It is because of this we organized stakeholder engagement, where we brought all the stakeholders including the Ministry of Works and Housing, where we all agreed that there is a need to institutionalize the provision of ducts in design and construction.”

He said further: “There are so many benefits to be attained from that. Number one, it allows shared infrastructure. Secondly, it makes maintenance and repairs much easier. If that is part of the design and construction, during maintenance, you don’t need to damage any road or any important building. That provision is sufficient and you will have a chamber where you will get access to all the facilities. It is because of this, we came up with this policy and in addition to that, it will also continue to make the price of broadband cheaper.”

Explaining further, Pantami hinted that data is very cheap in Nigeria, noting that as of August 2019, based on the official report of the Nigerian Communications Commission, one gigabyte of data, the price approximately was N1,200 but today the average price is N350.

“So if you look at it, the reduction is even more than 60%. So by doing that, because laying fibre optics, a lot is being spent in doing that.

“When we try to reduce the price and the amount being spent in doing that, that is part of the cost of production. So it will automatically bring the cost of production lower and by implication, all of us will get even broadband access at more affordable prices than what is being obtained today.”

According to him: “We had many stakeholder engagements; we engaged over 37 institutions of government, and now the policy has been approved. So by implication, during road construction, bridges, rail lines, seaports, stadiums and all other important buildings, we should make provision for ducts, where at least any wire or any gadget for electricity or telecommunications or any service that is required will make use of that facility and lay their cables.”

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