By Foday Moriba Conteh
During a Press Conference held on Wednesday 15th June 2022 at the Sierra Leone Telecommunications Company Limited Office on Wallace Johnson Street, in Freetown, the Interim Committee Chairman of the company, Francis Matturi intimated the current status of the entity.
He informed that during March and April of 2022, SIERRATEL workers were staging a strike action on the basis that Management owed them backlog salaries and other benefits spanning over six (6) months, adding that during that unfortunate period services to customers were disrupted for almost three (3) weeks.
Francis Matturi furthered that the National Commission for Privatization (NCP) subsequently relieved the Management of their duties on the 8th April 2022 and on that same day appointed a five-man Interim Management Committee with him as Head to manage the affairs of the Company until further notice.
Underscoring the Committee’s achievements, he stated that on an assumption of responsibility, members of staff called off the strike action and returned to work on Tuesday, 12th April 2022 revealing that the company’s network was restored and customer services commenced.
He also disclosed that members of staff were paid two (2) months’ salaries within three weeks adding how another month’s salary was affected shortly after.
The Interim Committee Chairman further told newsmen that customers who had made pre-payment for services that were disrupted during the strike period were compensated thus: Two weeks of free service to all, full 30 days reactivation of services, and further consideration to Corporate Clients.
He pointed out that the company engaged in a thirty days promotions of their products and services, mobilized revenue collection;
engaged in operational maintenance and restored Fiber connectivity to Bo, Kenema, Makeni, and Port Loko.
Dilating on the challenges, he revealed that the company is currently faced with aging infrastructure and outdated technology, retention of worn-out vehicles, huge outstanding debts to suppliers, vendors, and contractors, lack of spares and working tools, destruction/damage to the company’s UG Cables and Ducts by construction companies and outstanding salary and benefits payments to Staff.
Francis Matturi concluded by highlighting the following recommendations, infusion of capital into the enterprise, bringing up or revamping provincial exchanges, and the urgent need to optimize the Network on 4G and ADSL.
Earlier, the Sales Manager at SIERRATEL, Augustine George, commended the Interim Committee for their move towards the resuscitation of the company adding that as a commercial team their responsibility is to ensure that they generate revenue for the company and provide services for their valid customers.
He said, unfortunately, over the past months, there have been challenges towards the provision of services to their valid customers but thanked the Committee for their intervention by ensuring that those services are provided again to their customers, furthering that after the two weeks strike action a proposal was made to the Committee in relation to customers who had paid for services and due to the strike action the company shutdown.
Augustine George stated that the Committee agreed and all customers who had paid for services during the strike action were given two weeks of free service as compensation.
He concluded by stating that following the compensation the company also unveiled another promotion tagged, “Double Double” of which customers who pay for every service benefit in double ways, that is if a customer pays for a week he/she will be given another week free service.
The Secretary-General of the Sierra Leone Union of Postal and Telecommunications, Edward Yeremeh Kamara, who was present also, applauded the efforts of the Committee towards addressing the challenges faced by the company.
He expressed gratitude to all those supporting the Committee to ensure that such a strike action doesn’t repeat itself. He concluded by reassuring their commitment to workers to ensuring that the company is taken back to where it should be.
Closing the event was a question and answer session which was moderated by the Public Relations Officer of SIERRATEL, Mohamed Badamasi Cole.