TCN clears Phase3, Alheri on disputed power grid operation

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has cleared Phase3 Telecom and Alheri Engineering to operate the disputed power grid fibre optics concession contract, which it terminated in January 2018 over $36.5 million (N14.1 billion) concession fee debts.

The acting Managing Director of TCN, Engr. Sule Ahmed Abdulaziz, in an internal letter dated July 9, 2020 and referenced MD/CEO/01/3.00/Vol.2/207/2020, directed that access be granted to Phase3 Telecoms and Alheri Engineering Company Ltd to operate the concessioned fibre optics facilities at all TCN substations for their businesses.

The directive was conveyed specifically to the general manager, National Control Centre (NCC), the communications arm of TCN with its main centre in Osogbo, Osun State.

The letter said: “Further to Management’s withdrawal of termination of the concession agreements, you are hereby directed to grant operational access to Phase3 telecoms and Alheri Engineering to the following: Point of Presence (POP) in TCN Substations, Concessioned Fibre Optic Cable (FOC), and power supply connectivity.

“In view of this, you are to ensure seamless operations of the concessionaires,” it concluded.

Why TCN terminated contract

The federal government in 2006, under the defunct PHCN, concessioned the fibre optics system to Phase 3 Telecoms and Alheri Engineering for 15 years ending in 2021. They were to pay $40m (N15.450bn) concession fees, but as of 2018, TCN said only $3.5m (N1.352bn) was paid.

However, in January 2018, the erstwhile Managing Director of TCN, Mr Usman Gur Mohammed, terminated the concession agreement between the firms over breach of agreement and $36.5m debt in concession fee.

A situation report filed in 2018 to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami by TCN, indicated that both firms filed a suit on the termination and secured an injunction to stay action. But TCN secured an appeal against their injunction.

In spite of the appellate order, TCN claimed that on October 18, 2018, Phase3 Telecom gained access to TCN substations at Katampe in Abuja, Keffi in Nasarawa State, and Suleja in Niger State to operate the fibre optics.