Network problems paralyze phone lines in Nigeria : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

"Traffic congestion" paralyses phone lines in Nigeria: official LAGOS, April 2 (AFP) - Nigeria's telephone network is so congested that communication in many parts of the country has been paralysed, a spokesman for the state-run telecommunications firm NITEL said Monday.

Bala Abdulkadir said NITEL was aware that telephone phone lines in Lagos, the nation's commercial capital, had been congested for more than a week.

NITEL technicians are working to fix the problem and expand the network's switch and transmission capacity, he said.

Telephone subscribers in Lagos, in the capital Abuja, and in other urban centres have complained of being unable to receive or make calls.

Services in northern Kano, the second largest commercial city, were disrupted for several days last week following a total collapse of the NITEL network, residents said.

From Tuesday to Friday, Kano was cut off completely from the rest of the world, causing economic and social hardship to residents.

"Several billions of naira must have been lost in Kano in those four days that business was paralysed by NITEL", a businessman in the city, Ibrahim Maude, said.

Worst hit by the disruption were those working in banking, stock exchange, and foreign exchange sectors.

A foreign exchange operator in Kano, Saminu Kabir, said that he suspected sabotage in the affair.

"I strongly suspect sabotage by NITEL staff who are known for their exploitative tendencies. For instance, they would deliberately disrupt your line which is restored after a bribe is given," he said.

But Sadiq Sani, a NITEL spokesman in the city, ruled out sabotage.

Three weeks ago, one of the telephone lines of an international company was for some days fraudulently given out to an influential Nigerian, an official of the company told AFP.

The line was only restored to it after it lodged an official complaint, the official said.

The Nigerian government last month offered 40 percent of its shares in NITEL to foreign investors as part of a privatisation programme.

NITEL, fully owned by the federal government, had an installed telephone network of 720,000 lines, of which approximately 492,000 had been activated, as of December 2000, the National Council on Privatisation said in a statement.

-- Carl Jenkins (, April 02, 2001

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