By Andante Okanya
A group of five people has petitioned the High Court in Kampala, demanding compensation premised on misfortune purportedly suffered as a result of dropped calls due to negligence of telecom companies.
On June 12, Abel Balemesa, Toto Barugahara, Abdulwahab Mukuye, Aloysius Lubowa, and Brian Businge, filed a civil suit at the court through Nyanzi, Kiboneka, and Mbabazi Advocates.
The accused telecom operators are Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN) Uganda Limited, Airtel Uganda Limited, Orange Uganda Limited, and Uganda Telecom Limited.
The petitioners allege that from last year to date, the operators have breached the quality of service requirement, which has resulted in network failures and system malfunctions.
“The provision of poor quality service is evidence of a degraded infrastructure with insufficient capacity that does not correspond with purported investment claimed by the first to fourth defendants,” the plaint states in part.
According to court documents, other than dropped calls, the petitioners base their frustrations on intermittent and unsteady network availability, blocked calls, poor signal strength, and poor voice quality.
They also lament on annoying and anonymous telephone calls, phone traffic congestion, and irritating unsolicited messages.
For data services, they lament on pocket losses, snail speeds, access failure, congestion, and variance between purchased and actual delivery speeds with no value for money.
The communications industry regulator, Uganda Communications Commission(UCC), which is listed as the fifth defendant, is accused of failure to reprimand the accused telecoms.
The petitioners want court to compel UCC to appoint a financial expert to compute losses incurred by subscribers who have fallen victim. They also want to be paid costs of the suit.
Court had ordered the defendants to file their defence within 15 days from the date of receipt of court summons.
In the order dated June 12, 2014, signed by assistant registrar civil division Eleanor Khainza, they have been cautioned to heed, lest judgement is passed without their input.
When contacted by New Vision, Airtel Uganda communications manager Phiona Wall, confirmed that the company’s legal department had received court summons.
“We did receive the court summons and we will take the necessary legal steps required of us,”Wall stated.
MTN Uganda spokesperson Justina Ntagboba did not answer her mobile phone despite repeated calls.
Efforts to reach UCC director of communications Fred Otunnu were futile, as his known mobile phone number was unavailable yesterday.
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