The Managing Director of the Sierra Leone Cable (SALCAB), Ishmael Kabbay has told the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Information and Communication that the country’s only telecoms entity, Sierratell and other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) owe SALCAB the sum of Le69 billion over the past months for the provision of internet bandwidth on a whole sale arrangement. According to Kebbay, the debt would be described as ‘bad debt’ owing to the fact that most of the companies in question are seemingly reluctant to pay over the years despite agreeing with SALCAB on various payment plans. He furthered that Sierratell owed SALCAB Le12 billion, Sierra Wifi about 10 billion Leones, Atlas Communications Le2 billion. “The challenge we are having now is with Sierratell who are not keeping with their debt plan and not committed to paying their debt,” Kebbay asserted. He added that SALCAB even went to the point of downgrading Sierratell, “but they have still not paid the downgraded price”. The issue of debts and the non-commitment by ISPs to honor their liabilities has been one of the challenges SALCAB has been facing over the months since the new administration assumed office, according Kebbay. Members of Parliament in the Committee of Information and Communication were astonished over the development concerning the debt situation between SALCAB and its customers, which are the ISPs.
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Paramount Chief Member of Parliament, Bai Kurr Kanagba Rosanka, representing Tonkolili District, north of Sierra Leone noted that the Committee should work with SALCAB in making sure that the defaulting ISPs fulfil their debt obligations, so as to enable the work of the SALCAB and for SALCAB to keep in business. Honourable Sahr Charles of Constituency 28 in Kono District, east of Sierra Leone noted that the issue was a concern to them as MPs representing their people who make use of the service being provided by different ISPs in the country. “Our people don’t make use of the service of the ISPs on a credit basis, why should they owe SALCAB such an amount of money,” Hon. Charles questioned. “If we say we are going to disconnect all of these companies then SALCAB would not make money,” Kebbay responded. He added that SALCAB had been talking to them to comply “so that we find ways to have our monies”. Efforts to reach Sierratell and the different defaulting ISPs proved futile.
By Abdulai Gbla
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