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Gamtel close to bankruptcy

Barely less than one year, after Gambia’s incumbent Gamtel was privatized, the Company is close to bankruptcy, according to highly placed company officials, who spoke to the local Freedom Newspaper.

In view of Gamtel’s unpredictable future, the company has announced that Government office phones will no longer be "accessible to mobile phones." The move, according Gamtel officials, was intended to cut down expenditure and also to bail out the company from the current budgetary problems it’s faced with. A spokesperson for the Company told the Freedom Newspaper that most Government institutions, "do not pay their bills in time and are currently owing the company millions of Dalasis." The Company said the spokesman, " is in the brink of total collapse" due to unpaid bills from the Government and some private clients.

Incumbent Gamtel was privatized last year due to what Information Minister Neneh Macdowl Gaye described as "a financial crisis." facing the company. Concerned by the state of affairs, Government invited Spectrum Group, a Lebanese investment firm to purchase 50 percent of Gamtel’s shares. Its Chief Executive Muhammed Bazzi is of Lebanese origin and also owns Spectrum Gambia.

As Gamtel’s new owners, Spectrum an increase in phone rate charges, with immediate effect. All Gamtel call rates has been increased from one dalasi per unit to seven dalasis per unit. Many telecenters have closed due to Gamtel’s tariff increase.

Gamtel’s new Manager is Michael Ten, a Lebanese National. Ten has been accused by his colleagues of "incompetence and carelessness." For instance, they said, Ten does not have good managerial skills and was engaged in misplaced project priorities. The new Gamtel boss, according to insiders " is a liability" to the company.

Spectrum Group, is a Lebanon based company, which engaged in telecommunication, energy and petroleum management. The Company is currently helping to oversee the construction of the Government new petroleum site, situated in Kombo Mandinering.

A senior official of Gamtel told the Freedom Newspaper that the recent hikes in phone charges were as a result of a "serious economic crisis" facing the company. The official said Gamtel’s new owners have failed in their bid to restore financial sanity to the company.

Source : Freedom Newspaper

Publication date : March 5th, 2008

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