The Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) was last week forced to issue an order compelling Eaton Towers to restore Telkom Kenya Limited (TKL) services after it switched them off over existing debt.
In a press release seen by this writer, Eaton Towers suspended Telkom services on December 7 over Ksh255.6 million the network operator owes it inapplicable fees for the period September-November 2019.
Eaton Towers argued that an agreement with Telkom provides for disconnection if bills remain unpaid for 90 days. They also stated that the operator had been issued with five notices prior to the disconnection.
The suspension saw 49 TKL telecommunication sites shut down impacting 70 base transmitter station.
As a result, several customers across the country were affected as data, voices, text and mobile money services experienced an outage.
Following the dispute that ensued afterwards, the parties appeared before CA on Friday, 13, 2019, after which Eaton was ordered to restore the services.
“In order to cushion TKL customers from further agony, the Authority ordered Eaton Towers
to restore the services by midnight 13th December 2019 or risk regulatory sanctions. The
services have since been restored, ” CA said in a statement on Tuesday.
Mercy Wanjau, the CA Acting Director General noted the firm had failed to handle the matter in line with the dispute resolution mechanisms provided for in the licence conditions on interruption of services.
‘‘The condition requires a licensee to seek and obtain written approval from the Authority,
issue a reasonable advance notice to persons likely to be affected by the interruption or
suspension of service,’’ said Ms Wanjau.
The two parties were directed to follow the established dispute resolution mechanisms
in liaison with the Authority, as well as adherence to the Master Tower Agreement signed
between them., failure to which the authority will take necessary action.
“We note that this dispute is of a commercial in nature and we are hopeful that the Dispute Resolution Mechanism will restore the commercial issues that are covered herein. We also note that Article 46 of the Constitution of Kenya covers issues of Consumer Rights very articularly and we are bound by these requirements.
“As such, we remain hopeful that the various mechanisms provided here will yield a mutual resolution gong forward. Regrettably, if it will not be possible, then we will be pushed to invoke appropriate penalties and take subsequent action, ” said CA.
As of December 11, Telkom had paid Eaton Towers Ksh70 million (USD 700,000) and has been urged by the authority to clear the balance even as the parties appear before the authority on December 20, for review of the matter.
“The Authority also directed Telkom Kenya Limited to make good effort to remedy its commercial obligations towards Eaton Towers Kenya Limited, ” said CA.
The developments come at a time the Telkom and Airtel merger has been approved.
In a notice published in the Kenya Gazette Friday, the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) gave its green light for the deal while setting out a raft of conditions including ensuring it retains a number of its employees.
The company, which will be called Airtel-Telkom, is also required to honour all existing government contracts.
The guidelines provided also bars the merged entity from selling or transferring some of its operating and frequency spectrum licences until their duration expires.