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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

NITEL Strike: ATCON wants speedy action, PTOs seek alternative route

Remmy Nweke

The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), has called on the federal government to expedient actions to resolve the on-going strike by workers of the first national carrier, the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL).

ATCON also said that the economic impact of the strike is enormous and therefore ‘unquantifiable’.

This came as most Private Telecommunications Operators (PTOs) in the country, who route their calls through NITEL have commenced search for an alternate route in-house, even as PTO room at NITEL exchange Lagos is enmeshed in darkness.

ATCON President, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, made this call at the conclusion of his one-day facility visit to some of the PTOs and NITEL exchange, located at Saka Tinubu Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

He said the economic impact of the strike is enormous and cannot be simply quantified.

According to him, members of the umbrella body of telecom firms in the country who are PTOs, are now seeking alternative routes to their stalled interconnection hitherto via NITEL.

He also lamented the darkness which befall the Lagos exchange, pointing out that in the last six years one area that this administration has received encouraging number of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), is the telecom sector.

Dr. Ekuwem equally said that the effect of the strike is immense as the operators especially those using NITEL exchange have began to loose revenue.

Additionally, he said, it does not augur well for the proposed plan to privatize NITEL.

As said by him, the exercise of searching for an alternative to NITEL by PTOs, would further devalue NITEL, stressing that it is not good for the company and the nation as well.

“Seeking alternative to NITEL at this time means NITEL value will continue to diminish and it is unfortunate” he declared.

Telecom in Nigeria, he said, has been a success story noting that it is a competitive product that transcends a lot of services globally.

He called on the federal government to speedy actions on nipping the
strike in the bud, just as he recognized the efforts made so far by setting up two committees headed by the secretary to the federal government, Chief Ufot Ekatte and Finance Minister, Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonji-Iwala.

Dr. Ekuwem also noted that the reason for speedy action brings to mind that NITEL staffs are being owed five months and all of us go to the same market, send children to the same school, hence they need their salaries for sustenance.

He was accompanied at the visit by the Executive Secretary, ATCON, Mr. Godwin Morgan, while one of the PTOs visited was CelCom Limited.

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