Activists Seek Law to Curtail Poor Telecom Services

Client rights Activists under a newly established umbrella, the Kampala Consumer Watchdog, are calling for tougher legislation to protect Ugandans against exploitation by telecom companies. 

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Their demand is entrenched in a petition presented to the speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga by Justus Amanya, on behalf of Kampala Consumer Watchdog.

Amanya observed that telecom operators have taken advantage of weak laws to exploit unsuspecting subscribers, who often lose money and airtime for no service offered.

Multiple billing, dropped phone calls, poor network signals, inconsistent data, loss of airtime and unsolicited messages are listed as some of the inconsistencies in service delivery through which Ugandan subscribers have been robbed.

Amanya accused the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the government agency charged with regulating the telecommunications sector, of conniving with telecom operators to defraud subscribers.

He singled out MTN; a global cellular provider with headquarters in South Africa saying an audit conducted on the firm’s billing system discovered that some of its calls end at 35 seconds, cheating subscribers of airtime for 25 seconds for each minute.

“We are looking at that user in the countryside who does not even know where to complain from. We are basically trying to protect the ordinary user in the countryside,” Amanya said.

He added that in countries like Kenya and South Africa, appropriate laws have been enacted on the operation of telecom firms, charging fines for operators that do not meet minimum standards.

Amanya led an internet based campaign last year after enormous complaints from people who lost data bundles to MTN in one of its worst data service failures.

Thousands of subscribers had experienced multiple data bundle activation failure, multiple charges, delayed data bundle loading, failed activation and inaccurate data bundle billing.

As a result, the company with 3.4 million customers on its data segment refunded internet bundles and Airtime worth shs 5billion to some of the complainants.

The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga welcomed the idea of the law and added that a private member would be selected to take on the matter of there are delays from the executive.

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