By Makutu Manneh
The GSM operator Comium has called on the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to lift the suspension of its network as their new investor is willing to pay all their arrears.
Comium Gambia’s management made this announcement on Wednesday 6th October 2021 amid the suspension of their network which started on October 5th.
The staff of the company, who were present at the company’s hall to attend the press conference, cheered upon hearing the news.
PURA served a notice to Comium suspending its operating licenses and gave the company up to 1st October to explain why they should not be suspended.
PURA said Comium Gambia Limited was suspended because it failed to pay licenses and spectrum fees for 2020, 2021 and international gateway levies.
Comium said with its new move and new investor, they will improve the economic situation of The Gambia and create additional job openings. The company’s management said they were surprised when PURA suspended them because they had due settlement and promising negotiations with PURA.
“When we left that meeting, we left with the knowledge that we have complied with PURA’s request,” said Lamin Drammeh, Comium’s Technical Director.
Director Drammeh said the sum of D65 million PURA said they owed the government, D42 million is their license fare for 2021 which is not due until end of December 2021. He added that out of the remaining D23 million they owed for 2020, 10 million has already been paid.
Drammeh said their debt now is D13 million and not D65 million PURA is talking about.
“When we had a meeting with PURA, we indicated that we will settle our 2020 arrear before the end of October,” he said. “So, we are appealing to PURA and the government. We think Comium deserves another chance.”
Haddy Danda Jabbie, legal adviser of Comium, said apart from licenses, they do not own any liabilities when it comes to corporate tax, social security and others.
“As a GSM operator, it is difficult to shut down the network even for an hour, it will kill the company,” she said. “The suspension has stopped most of our customers from enjoying the services that they give them.”
Ms. Jabbie said it is important that PURA listens to them and negotiate to find a way that they can continue having their staff, contracts and continue to work with the government and find a way to save the company.
Comium is a GSM mobile phone operator in The Gambia and is the third mobile network to establish in the country. It offers integrated mobile and telecom services.