NATCOM Sierra Leone holds consultative meeting in Kenema
The body that has the constitution mandate to regulate service providers (telecommunication houses), National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) Sierra Leone, over the weekend held a consultative meeting with mobile phone companies, members of the Forth Estate, members of the Top-up Sellers Association and the consumers of the mobile phone companies at the Kenema City Council conference hall, Reservation Road, Kenema.
In his opening statement, one of the representatives of NATCOM, Commissioner Kabbia, welcomed and thanked all for leaving their busy schedules to answer to the call of the Commission onquick notice, adding that NATCOM is there to maintain that “the consumer is always right,” and that it is incumbent on the overall service providers to respect and uphold the right of the consumer. And that the Commission therefore accords every consumer of telecommunications services the following entitlements, right and privileges irrespective of their status in life and that rights includes the right to be informed, the right to safety, the right to privacy, the right to choice and the right to be heard.
Commissioner Kabbia reiterated that for the past 19 months the service providers have be hitting them that they want to increase their price in the market but the Commission has stopped them because they have not got any message from consumers and that what they are on now by having consultative meeting in all chiefdom districts before the Commission will give word to the service providers.
One of the GSM operators who is the marketing manager of Airtel Sierra Leone eastern region, Desmond Spain, said that it is indeed true that it has taken 19 months they wanted to increase their price but since then NATCOM has not given them the go ahead to do so and that they want the people of this country to see reason why they need to increase prices considering the cost of the materials they are using as none of them are manufactured in Sierra Leone, adding that they will only provide good service to their subscribers if they have quality materials which is costly and involved.
Responding, various speakers who are also subscribers of these companies, said that Airtel, COMMIUM, and Africell mobile companies are not providing good services as it is difficult to connect to each of the networks especially at distant locations; that they are in the habit of sending unnecessary texts messages which the subscribers are vehemently against; that Airtel is very expensive compared to other mobile service providers within the West Africa Sub-Region and gets a huge amount of money from customers when cross calls are made; that the network services are not reliable and are limited to cities and bigger towns; that Airtel is in the habit of installing back ring turns with huge cost without the approval of subscribers; and that the companies are also notorious of calling people just to play music and in order to advertise their products.
They reiterated that these are some of the major issues they have considered as violation of their rights as subscribers and citizens of Sierra Leone.
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