Postal Affairs’ Action Backfires
...NTLA C’ttee Wants Decision Revoked; Businesses Express Concern

By: C. Winnie Saywah


The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 5, 2004

The NTLA Committee on Post and Telecommunication is calling on Postal Affairs Minister Eugene Nagbe to withdraw his letter ordering the immediate closure of the Atlantic Wireless Liberia Incorporated (AWLI) GSM operations.
The Committee in addressing the issue yesterday through its chairman, Rep. Ranney Jackson, at his Capitol Building office, said Minister Nagbe must take into consideration that such orders effect losses and that everything done in government must go with procedure.

Rep. Jackson said Minister Nagbe, who proved himself to be qualified for his position, should be cognizant that before such an order is released, consultations must have been made with his r deputies and assistants, than have one party giving orders and another counteracting.

He said since the confirmation of Minister Nagbe, his working relationship with the NTLA Committee on Postal Affairs is very difficult, noting, "we are in for competition, and having the Lone Star as the only GSM Company is wrong".

Rep. Jackson, who is the nominee of Liberians in the Diaspora, said the order of the Post and Telecommunications boss to unilaterally shut down the AWLI’s GSM operations makes him a bit disappointed, adding, "the land lines are dormant and everyone has taken to the GSM phone. Therefore as Minister, he must be happy and encourage an open market."

The NTLA Committee’s concerns were raised because recently Minister Nagbe in a press release issued in Monrovia said the operations of AWLI has been ordered closed for illegally transmitting on GSM 900 frequency not assigned to it by the Ministry.

But in another press release issued from the same Ministry, the Deputy Minister for Technical Services, Mr. Sekou Kromah expressed shock and admitted that the Ministry is aware of AWLI’s assigned frequency.

According to Mr. Kromah’s release, prior to the coming of the present government into power, frequencies were assigned to both GSM and AWLI by the former Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Melvin Sogbande and Emma Wuo and were again reviewed by the present authorities and endorsed to operate as a GSM Company.

The NTLA Committee on Posts and Telecommunications chairman then wondered whether Minister Nagbe is fully aware and effectively carrying out his duties at the Ministry adding,"he is always out of the country."

The Committee has therefore cited Minister Nagbe to appear at the Capitol today to give answer for unilaterally ordering the closure of AWLI’s GSM operations.

Meanwhile, several members of the business community have expressed grave concern about the recent decision by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications to shut down Libercell, a legally registered company in the country.

In an interview with this paper following the issuance of the Ministry’s press statement, the businesses said they were shocked over the Ministry’s action because according to them, its claims by cannot be justified.

The businesses contended that the Minister’s claim is not true because according to them, documents in the possession of the company clearly show that the Ministry was fully aware about it being duly registered and having even made payment of the required fees as stipulated for GSM companies.

"We find this kind of development interesting because Minister Nagbe, himself, is aware of the operation of this company. Why should he now come out to say that he is not aware. This is a complete embarrassment,." they said.

The businesses said they are worried because the action of the Ministry could be emulated by others to obstruct the operation of their various businesses. They said this action has the potential to discourage would-be investors.

The businesses, many of which have huge investment, said they are equally concerned about the users of this new cell phone company. They said it is unfair to the users to be faced with this kind of embarrassing situation.

Subsequently, the businesses have called on the NTGL Chairman Gyude Bryant to immediately intervene in the matter to ensure the unimpeded operations of the AWLI/LiberCell Company.

© 2004: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.