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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

NITEL sacks 29, more imminent

THE Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), last weekend, sacked 29 staff, even as more sack is imminent at the national operator.

Since the acquisition of NITEL, last June by the management of Transnational Corporation (TRANSCORP), estimated 12,000 employees of the company have been laid off, in spite of the inability of Transcorp to put money down for the running of the organisation.

Confirming the latest sack, Deputy General Manager (DGM), Corporate Communications at NITEL headquarters in Abuja, Mr. Bala Ibrahim Abdulkadir, informed Champion Infotel that the sack is an on-going thing and is part of organisational restructuring embarked upon by the new owners of NITEL, that is Transcorp.

“Yes, 29 were sacked last Friday and it is part of the restructuring of the company; just part of the restructuring process and in line with industry standard,” he said.

He also confirmed that last November, about 7,000 staff, were relieved of duty at NITEL, just as he said that any problem associated with NITEL landlines could be network hiccups as everything has been set in motion to be working well.

Champion Infotel investigations revealed that estimated 12,000 employees have been sacked since purported completion of the acquisition, which is still a puzzle to most stakeholders on the move to raise the share and ‘preferred bidder’ option that was introduced on the disposition of NITEL.

Sources close to NITEL also informed that every month this has become an exercise, alleging that probably this is a move to reduce the personnel level in the organisation, which some stakeholders said was over blotted by the NITEL management prior to the acquisition.

Further investigations showed that the NITEL Lagos zonal headquarters located behind the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) Onikan-Lagos, has become a ghost of itself as less staff are evidently seen at the premises.

One of our sources also suggested that instead of sacking all these people now, why don’t the management simply request them to reapply so as to assess them from that point rather than throwing them out through one door and engaging new hands shortly afterwards from another door.

It would be recalled that since the acquisition, no real major transformation has taken place in the offering of NITEL except for the stoppage of regional categorization of calls and reviewing of tariffs during the second week of November, 2006, even as the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) Tuesday, November 14, 2006 at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, handed over the management of NITEL to Transnational Corporation (Transcorp).

According to Mr. Abdulkadir, the review cut across its fixed and wireless Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) offerings.

He explained that the latest tariff structure received the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) approval and took effect from last October.

Mr. Abdulkadir added that a minute call on NITEL line for local or urban calls on either fixed or wireless CDMA attracts N13.65 kobo at peak periods and N12.01 at off-peak periods, whereas a national call on the same services would attract N16.20 at peak periods and N14.26 during off-peaks.

He further clarified that this showed a decrease in the cost of national calls and an increase in the cost of local calls to reflect the company’s tariff “re-balancing strategy in response to the dictates of the telecommunications industry.”

He also said that calls to its mobile subsidiary, Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTEL) under the current review attracts 0.40 kobo per second (kps), while calls to other mobile GSM networks is 0.50 (kps).

In addition, NITEL had stated in the new tariff structure that local cum urban calls were calls from a NITEL line to be terminated within the same city calling code, while national calls were calls within the network to a location which uses a city code different from that of the caller.

As said by the DGM, the new tariff structure was part of the re-balancing and re-strategisation efforts aimed at providing best quality and widely available services to customers.

“The company will continue efforts in this direction with a view to enhancing its customer base and regaining its place in the telecommunications market,” he said.

Mr. Abdulkadir equally pointed out that international call charges however, remained unchanged, noting that international call tariffs were last reduced four years ago by about 60 per cent.

On the other hand, its subsidiary, MTel was reported to have resuscitated about 60 base stations in the South West, although the effect is yet to manifest in MTel skeletal services.

However, investigations further revealed that despite the slash in its call tariffs, NITEL has continued to witness dwindling fortune since the advent of GSM and liberalisation of the telecommunications, even as continues liberalisation of the market has not been helpful to the first national carrier till date.

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