The former Managing Director of Nigcomsat, Engineer Timasaniyu Ahmed- Rufai has told the House of Representatives Committee “Ad-Hoc Committee to Investigate the Award of CCTV Cameras in Abuja and Lagos” that the project was fully completed by the then contractor, ZTE Nigeria Limited but that the Federal Government failed to operate and maintain the project.
The Video Surveillance project is a component of the $470 million National Public Security Communication System (NPSCS) project which has been subject of public criticism in recent times.
Similarly, Chinese telecoms giant, ZTE denied any wrong-doing in the execution of the NPSCS project, saying it completed and delivered one of world’s best Video Surveillance System (VSS) to the Federal Government
According to Ahmed-Rufai: “ We had a team of 25 engineers that went to every location to verify different stages of the project. We issued Acceptance Certificates after which payments were made to the contractor. There were milestones that were all carefully and professionally observed by the project implementation team.
“As the Project Consultant, I stand by every payment that was made and every decision taken on the project. The project was completed, tested and every component was working.
“It is erroneous for anyone to call the project a CCTV project because the Video Surveillance System (VSS) is even less than 8 per cent on the project. There were five components and they were all completed We need to be straight in how we discuss this issue.”
When asked why the cameras in Abuja and Lagos were not working currently, Ahmed-Rufai likened what happened to someone who bought a brand new car and refused to fuel it.
“They had to power down the backbone for the communication system because government was not forthcoming in maintaining and operating the system. It is a complete communication system, there were phones for security agencies, they were special phones for security agencies which some people decided to lock up somewhere.
“There were emergency communication vehicles, they were all delivered, People were trained, from the police and other agencies but somehow some people decided not to operate the system. Those cameras depend on a backbone that has over 670 base stations. Those BTS has to be powered for the cameras to work,” he said.
ZTE Nigeria Managing Director, Mr. Hao Fuqiang who also spoke at the sitting of the committee said contrary to public perception, the project was not to merely installed cameras but one conceived to deploy comprehensive, reliable, modern and robust public security communications technology.
According to Hao, the NPSCS project is made up of five components or subsystems:
• Global Open Trunking Architecture (GoTa) Sub-system: This is the dominant component of the system. It is a CDMA based Voice and data Telecommunications system with National coverage. It operates through 2Nos Mobile Switch Centre (MSC) with one each in Lagos and Abuja, 12Nos Base Station Controller (BSC), 675 Base Transceiver Station (BTS) and 21 Microwave repeaters. The GoTa system supports the deployment of 1.5 million subscriber lines.
• Video Surveillance Subsystem: This system comprises of 2000 surveillance cameras with a thousand each installed in Abuja and Lagos respectively. This is the easily noticed component of the project. The application of solar solutions in this subsystem was informed by the electricity power challenges in the country and the need to ensure sustained operations of the cameras wherever they are installed. This component is only about 12 per cent of the total package of the project.
• Video Conferencing subsystem: This subsystem provides a platform for real time video conferencing for the Nigeria Police Force across all commands and the Force Headquarter.
• The E-policing subsystem: This facilitates the deployment of E-policing databases.
• Coalition Emergency Response subsystem: This subsystem is a platform for national emergency communication using the short code of 911 for emergency and /distress calls and 912 for anonymous security information. It also empowers the security agencies to carry out coordinated response.
The ZTE boss explained that the GoTA technology deployed in the NPSCS project has grown to be the global leader in specialized digital truncking standards. It has been deployed in over 40 countries including Norway, Poland , Russia, Ghana, Morocco, Chech Republic and China among others.
While insisting t that ZTE has completed the execution of the project and that Acceptance Certificates (PAC) were issued by the Federal Government indicating, that the project was successfully completed and functioning, he said any perception that the NSPC project was not working was unfounded.
Hao disclosed that the GoTa system was used by the Police and the Presidential security on several occasions: “These include the inauguration event of President Goodluck Jonathan first term, the World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Abuja and other events hosted at the Eagles Square Abuja.
“The VSS was also successfully used by the Nigerian Police on some instances such as; Abuja Airport Incident involving theft US$1million. Tracking and arresting of drug dealers in Oshodi, Lagos. Capturing the Lagos Airport robbery.”
He lamented that since the completion of the project in 2012, “the network has been shut down for upwards of about two years now due to absence of take-off funds to power the network for effective operations and conduct the final tests and then final hand over of the network.”
The ZTE MD stressed the need for the government to come up with “sustainable operation and maintenance program” for the project , saying its effective usage will enhance the efficiency of the nation’s security agencies.