The suspended mother of all strikes embarked upon by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to protest the hike in the pump price of petrol, took a toll on ICT services across the country, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek can reveal.
The six-day strike action brought to halt economic activities and grounded many inactive as shops and offices were under lock and key.
Official statistics are hard to come by but the losses in manhours, opportunities and businesses can best be imagined.
Lanre Ajayi, managing director, Pinet Informatics said the strike impacted not just the ICT industry but businesses in general, adding that “it is when you have other businesses running that they can effectively use ICT services”.
Ajayi, noted that the level of utilization of services dropped due to the shutdown of business like banks and other businesses that make use of ICT services.
Despite the shut down of businesses, he said people were still able to make use of their phones in sending text messages, making and receiving calls and also surfing the internet.
Engineer Bayo Banjo, president of the Nigerian Internet Group, downtime experienced during the six-day strike was infrastructure dependent.
He explained that some areas had bad services due to the nefarious activities of vandals who vandalized cell sites during the strike.
According to him, this is not the first time cell sites are being vandalized and explained that areas boys in some parts of the country thought it wise to destroy cell sites as a way of expressing their grievances to the hike in price of petrol.
“By and large, various sites were vandalized, area boys also stopped delivery of diesel to cell sites which resulted in downtime in some parts of the country,” Banjo noted.
Though there were mixed bag of reports from different parts of the country, he said Lagos experienced little downtime.
Anu Ayoola, a travel agent executive whose job it is to make flight bookings and hotel reservations told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek that she was unable to check available seats online, let alone make bookings as a result of downtime.
Odunayo Samuel, a student who had her PUK blocked lamented her plight while trying to get across to her operator’s service centre to get her phone unlocked.
She said effort to get through to customer care proved futile, rendering her incommunicado for days.
A customer care centre executive of one of the telcos who does not want his name in print explained that customer care also went on strike due to the strike as they were instructed not to report for duty until after the strike. As a result, he said customers could not have their needs met while the strike lasted.