Comium promises to settle dues amid suspension

Oct 7, 2021, 11:59 AM | Article By: Pa Modou Cham

Comium Gambia GSM operator in a press conference yesterday revealed that their investor in U.K. is ready and committed to pay all dues owed to The Gambia government soonest if Public Utilities and Regulatory Authority (PURA) lifts suspensions and allows them to operate fully.  

Prior to the press conference, PURA informed the press that Comium had been suspended till November 4, 2021, and risks licence revocation due to unfulfilled obligations in complying with the PURA regulations and payment of arrears.

Yusupha Jobe, director general of PURA explained that a few weeks ago, they issued a notice to Comium that they had been failing to pay their regulatory dues and other charges as part of the Authority’s rules. 

“We gave them full details of what is required which was not only the financial aspect but they also have been failing to provide information as required by the PURA Act in terms of their investment, what they are doing in going forward to ensure that the company is competitive and sustainable. We gave them two weeks to comply and bring forward the information required and as well make good on the payment. Unfortunately, on the last day before the deadline, they came and pledged that they will make a payment of 14 million, in which 10 million will be paid to the government, 3 million to PURA, and 2 million on the spot lavage.”

Mr. Jobe further stated that the amount is very small compared to what they owed, adding that per the rules and regulations, if they were going to be given  further opportunity, they needed to have an agreement or a plan on how they would pay the balance. 

He added that this was never given to either PURA or the government. Jobe indicated that the suspension took effect yesterday and will last for a month, in which they are expected and allowed to take further actions to remedy the situation. 

He said the government is very concerned about Comium staff and is looking for means in making sure that the staff don’t suffer due to the suspension.

Meanwhile, Comium on the other hand has reacted to the suspension. Lamin Drammeh, technical director of Comium told the press that Comium is fully ready and committed to paying all dues if PURA lifts the suspension and does not tie them with any condition that will jeopardise the kick-off of the new era in telecommunication in the company and the country. 

“Comium, who recently acquired a new international investor with whom it signed a management agreement with the objective of resolving all the current financial and network issues including bringing 4G and 5G to The Gambia at a later stage, was shocked by PURA’s decision to suspend the network on October 5, 2021.”

Mr. Drammeh said the surprising news came after thorough positive meetings, in which Comium and its new investor showed a sign of goodwill by paying D14 million of its gross dues and also expressed its determination to pay the remaining amount without relating this payment to its dues receivable of D21 million dalasis from Gamtel. 

“Noting that the new move of Comium will not only improve the economic situation in the country with the new investment but will also create additional job openings increasing the existing Comium workforce by at least 30%, while safeguarding the main source of living of the current 125 employed families in the company,” Drammeh stated.