As parliament ratifies QCELL’s MOU with gov’t…


Lawmakers urge mobile companies to improve on employees’ status

January 17, 2019

By Jariatu S. Bangura

Members of Parliament have urged mobile operators to consider improving the status of their employees instead of taking care of key government officials across the country.

Speaking during the ratification of QCELL’s Memorandum of Understanding with the government on Tuesday, Hon.  Abdul Kargbo of the main opposition All People Congress(APC)  observed that one of the biggest flaws associated with mobile companies was the lack of goodwill to take care of their employees.

“With all the bonanzas that they are making across the country, they cannot take good care of their workers. Orange and AFRICELL are not doing it. I urge you (QCCELL) and all other operators to take good care of local employees,” he urged.

Hon. Kargbo further observed that mobile operators over the years have over protected government officials rather than the poor citizens.

The opposition lawmaker said “Many employees that have been working for mobile operators in the country are yet to be paid their end of service benefits. Most of these companies have folded-up whilst others have been sold. We do not want QCELL to be like COMMIUM,” he said.

Hon. Kargbo said most times, the companies that take over from previous oes only cared for the asset, leaving the local employees to perish.

On his part, opposition Whip, Hon. Hassan Sesay, said it would be good to have a competitive market, but noted that improvement in service delivery should be key.

“If we have many operators in the market, it will increase competition. We only hope that they will improve on their investment and the people will benefit greatly. I will encourage QCELL to employ more Sierra Leoneans than foreigners. I do believe that they will add value and give the other operators the speed to do same. We know they will enhance our connectivity for a better service. We do hope that they will do what they promised and stay for good,” he said.

Chief Whip of the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), Hon. Dickson M. Rogers, assured Members of Parliament and the public that people will never regret switching over to QCELL, as the network is reliable, cheaper  and affordable.

Hon. Veronica K. Sesay of the SLPP also welcomed the new company and cautioned that they would not want to witness another episode of mobile companies like COMIUM, TIGO, SMART and MILLICOM.

“Please make sure you monitor their operation very well and try to do perfect job across the country,” she urged QCELL staff.

Earlier in his submission, Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rado Swaray, said the MOU will be geared towards providing jobs for locals; improving on call quality and internet penetration in most un-serve communities across the country.

He said the inception of the new company was a welcoming idea as it would increase competition.

He said the country has over 70% mobile users, but the internet connection was awful as only 15% of citizens countrywide have access to the internet.

The minister said in the first ten years of operation, the company will employ Sierra Leoneans that will constitute 90% of its staff and within 15 years period, the local staff strength will increase to 100%.

“The employment of locals is paramount and we are working with the Ministry of Labour in making sure that the minimum wage is given to locals employed,” he said.

He maintained that QCELL would construct its operational headquarters in Freetown, which would lead to the provision of cheap, reliable and affordable internet connectivity, and that it would also promote healthy and accountable competition.

The minister called on NATCOM to effectively monitor the activities of QCELL and the other mobile networks.

He called on MPs especially those in the Committee on Information to work together and promote the interest of Sierra Leoneans, with the view to having value for money for the services they rendered.

“The issue of inter-connection will be realised as although NATCOM will get 0.02 cents with the operators getting 0.5 cents.”

He noted that the ministry has also given the mobile companies incentives to work in the province where connectivity has been very difficult to access.

He said QUCELL was ready to invest $181million dollars, thus expressing hope that the project will excel.

“We know companies have come and gone, but as Minister of Information, I will ensure that they improve on their quality of services and reductions of tariff for the people. We believe that with serious broad band connectivity, we will achieve the process of having E-health facilities and other electronic facilities nationwide,” he said.

Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Abass Bundu, said parliament has the right to ratify and de-ratify any agreement that was not working in the interest of citizens.

“This warning is going for all operators. We have the power to ratify and de-ratify any agreement if they fail to do what they said they will do. Mr. Minister, please take note of this and promise that they do justice to consumers,” he warned.

He also urged the chairman and members of the Committee on Information to do their oversight work properly, and reminded the other operators that have been operating in the country that, there have been too many drop-calls.