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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

NITEL gives debtors ultimatum to pay N4.8b

Remmy Nweke

Probably waking from slumber, the recently Transnational Corporation (Transcorp) acquired Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) has given Private Telecom Operators (PTOs) and corporate users of its services numbering 109 an ultimatum till Thursday, July 6, this year, to settle an accumulated debt worth N4.8 billion or face suspension of services till further notice.

Disclosing this in Lagos, the Public Relations Manager, NITEL Lagos zone, Mr. Ig Nwangwu, said that these customers of the company “if, by the end of Thursday July 6, 2006, fail to settle a cumulative debt of N 4.8 billion,” would be suspended on the telco’s offering.

Out of this amount, he said, about 81 per cent is being owed by about 62 telecommunications companies which acquired interconnect circuits through which they, in turn, provide mostly pre-paid services to the public. “Some of these companies are, unfortunately, not known to have made any payments beyond the initial installation costs for the circuits even as they carry their customers’ pre-paid traffic unhindered by NITEL,” he decried.

Mr. Nwangwu also said that the rest of the debt is owed by some 62 banks, Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) and point-to-point telecommunications traffic re-sellers.

“Demand notices soliciting the cooperation of the companies concerned have since been sent to their last known addresses,” he said.

Recalling that the recovery of these debts was a key factor in the agreement reached between the management of NITEL and Industrial Unions in NITEL following the June 2006 strike by workers of the company.

A joint committee of the management and unions was constituted to ensure that debts owed by all, including wholesale customers are collected so as to meet the May and June 2006 salary bills of the company,” he submitted.

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