Strike disrupts phone and internet services in Nigeria

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The strike embarked upon this week by workers of the partially privatised Nigeria telecommunications company (NITEL) has disrupted telephone and internet services across the country.

NITEL, one of the country’s two main gateways, provides services to a host of other telephone operators and internet providers.

But the strike, to press for the payment of the workers’ salary arrears, has caused the shutdown of the SAT-3 facility, a key communication infrastructure that links Nigeria with the rest of the world.

The implication is that the phone companies and internet providers that depend on that facility have been cut off, making it impossible for them to service their customers.

“We cannot service our private and corporate customers due to the NITEL strike, and we don’t know how long this will last,” an official of a major broadband provider in Lagos said on Thursday.

Asked if the company plans to switch customers to a back-up system, the official retorted: “We can’t do much right now.”

The development has put a huge pressure on the telecommunications system, according to the regulatory National Communications Commission (NCC).

“NITEL is a major provider of land line services to government agencies and major corporate organisations in the country. Also, through the SAT-3 cable infrastructure, NITEL provides major international link from Nigeria to the rest of the world,” NCC said in a statement.

“As a consequence of the workers’ strike, subscribers who rely on NITEL’s fixed lines would invariably resort to patronising other service providers, thus increasing the congestion on those networks,” it said.

Efforts by the government to persuade the workers to open the SAT-3 facility have so far failed, as they insist on the full payment of their salaries before calling off the strike. Panapress.

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