Some hidden agenda and vested interests are working behind the PTCL’s face distortion so that the prospective buyers have to pay less when it is privatised.
The PTCL is certainly the only state-owned communication giant, which is in a serious crisis these days and heading fast towards a total disaster. When it comes to the launching of new schemes, it is a big disappointment because of poor groundwork. Least consideration is given to aftermaths in case of a problem. The management's recklessness is quite visible while handling serious situations, obviously carelessly.
Take the recent example of free telephone connections, that is, free-of-cost telephone connections under "Bilkul Muft" scheme. Only four thousand connections were given to the public costing about Rs 25 million to the company. The above-mentioned money was spent on advertisement. According to a source placed high in the set-up, told on the condition of anonymity that the plan was to give four lacs connections. "The company received over four lacs applications. Less than three lacs connections (did not specify the number despite insistence) were provided because there were network limitations," confided the source. As far as the number of connections, as mentioned by the source, if believed to be correct, even then it is a gross miscalculation on the part of the higher management, which has launched a campaign without having prior knowledge of the PTCL capacity to provide connections. However, according to another source, the PTCL could only provide 4,000 connections.
The company acquired the WLL licence from the PTA through bidding during the last few months. The PTCL purchased one of the most expensive, obsolete and discarded technologies Release-A system at an exorbitant price of $300 million. On this irregularity, Communications & IT Federal Minister Awais Leghari has already ordered an inquiry.
The set-up is ready. Despite tall claims in the media about the launching of WLL services, it is yet to start even today after it has interviewed dealers across the country. Why is this delay? This is a million dollar question, which is still unanswered. But according to a source privy to the present management, the concerned authorities are delaying the service deliberately in order to give an edge to private companies and pave the way for them to capture the market. It is also said that the higher-ups of the present set-up are on the payroll of the private companies. Due to this, they are using various delaying tactics. Time durations were announced twice or thrice about the launching of the WLL, but it had not happened so far. No explanation has been given in this regard.
No citizen is safe from the highhandedness of the PTCL officials. Take the example of Thatta where hundreds of telephone subscribers, linked mainly through eight major telephone exchanges of the district, have been facing countless problems for a couple of months, because of unrelenting disruption, technical faults and administrative irregularities.
About two hundred telephone connections are lying idle in Sujawal town, which is facilitated through an 800-line digital exchange. In the twin towns of Thatta and Makli, a 400-line ZTE telephone exchange and a 1200-line Alkatel exchange are functioning in about the same fashion. Groups of subscribers are often found running from pillar to post for the restoration of their telephone lines. Insiders suggested that some vested interests were paving the way for private telephone companies. Telephone exchanges of the coastal towns of Jati and Chuhar Jamali remained idle, because of non-availability of batteries. Generators installed in these exchanges are lying faulty for months owing to lack of maintenance.
This is not the only of three or four districts rather one can find it happening everywhere. Simultaneously, one would find the higher authorities either sleeping in their cosy offices or issuing 'well-done' statements to newspapers and making their PROs run ‘for their lives’ in the offices of newspapers. Being good through few newspapers and news items, would not make them heroes of this nation rather there is more to their discredit instead of credit. They should weigh their wrongdoings first, which are too heavy to be lifted and then should proudly claim of their success. Recently, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications constituted a five-member sub-committee to examine the appointment and promotions in Grade 17 to 21. Appointments and promotions made by the PTCL management, in Grade 17 to 21, were without considering its employees and fulfilling the prescribed criteria for promotions.
Why this is being done? One thing is certain that some hidden agenda and vested interests are working behind this face distortion of the company. As the PTCL is going to be privatised within next six months, a few individuals might be looking to cause such huge damages, so that the company dips to the possibly lowest ebbs. By doing this, they are favouring the prospective bidders, who shall be bidding far less than the actual worth of the company. If this is the case, then the concerned authorities should wake up immediately, and pull up their socks to save this precious entity of this country.