The Minority in Parliament and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) have urged the Ministry of Communications and Digitization and the National Communications Authority (NCA) to stop blocking SIM cards that have yet to be re-registered.
They described the blocking as arbitrary and contrary to the fundamental rights of the population.
Speaking to the press in Parliament yesterday, Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu said the imposition of the ‘punitive lockdown’ restricted people’s basic rights and deprived them of the need to use their mobile phones while case of emergency.
“They are simply punishing Ghanaians for their own failures and failure to synchronize data between the National Identification Authority (NIA) and the mobile operators in Ghana and this punishment is unjustified.”
“This government is operating under the mistaken impression that Ghanaians and anyone deserving of the Ghana Card have one, but that is simply not the case.
“So when you make it compelling, as if you have easily made the Ghana Card available to all deserving Ghanaians and others who should register for the purpose of SIM card access, that naivety is of the utmost importance,” he said.
“Lately, it seems the success of the communications industry is haunting members of government, where the value of our democracy is threatened by the emasculation of networks to intimidate subscribers whose freedoms are routinely subjected to basic manipulations. data,” he added. .
The minority leader expressed concern that instead of promoting the widespread use of communication services, there had been unnecessary requests for registration, re-registration and multiple registration of SIM cards” for reasons manifestly designed to discourage the possession and use of SIM cards for national identification purposes”. ”.
He said it was an irony that in the quest for increased revenues to meet its development needs, the government was imposing obstacles to the continued growth of the telecommunications sector.
Stating that the International Telecommunications Union prioritized emergency telecommunications, Mr. Iddrisu said that completely cutting telecommunications services to subscribers for no reason other than to limit use by citizens was the lowest point of the development of a country’s telecommunications.
He pointed out that cell phones and smartphones are essential emergency tools today as they have become a necessity in modern society, where people rely on these cell phones to solve critical situations, such as locating family members, the dosage of drugs one had to take, alerting security of an armed robbery and facilitating remittances.
“So this government just doesn’t understand the weight of mobile and telecommunications as an essential emergency tool. “I don’t want to believe that the NCA and the Department of Communications are naïve in their appreciation and understanding of the importance of telecommunications and particularly the use of cell phones,” he said.
While expressing concern over the appalling number of Ghanaians queuing to register their SIM cards across the country, the minority leader said providing a public good should not necessarily result in punitive sanctions of SIM card blocking.
He therefore called on the Ministry of Communications and the ANC to refrain from treating the communications sector as “personal fiefdoms” at the risk of the country’s development.
“We expect more from a professional and insightful approach to the management of the sector to avoid a further worsening of the sector.
“The current level of competition leaves a lot to be desired; a return to the days of monopoly or any operation of pseudo-competitive environment or duopoly will be an unforgivable indictment,” he added.
PPP on Challenges
The PPP, in a statement, said the Ministry of Communications and Digitization and the NCA are well aware of the challenges associated with the acquisition of the Ghana Card by Ghanaians.
“It is therefore an abuse of power to impose time limits and penalties in the re-registration exercise of SIM cards, without taking into account the challenges of the NIA in acquiring the ID cards for the exercise”, he pointed out.
The PPP therefore called on the Ministry and the ANC to come up with a system to ensure that SIM card re-registration is continuous, easy to re-register and accessible to all citizens.
The statement, signed by the party’s communications director, Emmanuel Felix Kofi Mantey, said the party believed the government policies being introduced should improve the lives of citizens, not make them worse off.
He therefore urged the Minister of Communications and Digitization to show a commitment to serving the interests of Ghanaians, instead of being harsh.
Proceed to court
“It is important to note that the re-registration of the SIM card is only an exercise to update the customer information on all SIM cards already registered in the country, and that under the 2011 regulations on the registration of the subscriber identity module, LI 2006 regulating the registration of the SIM card, it does not allow the Minister to impose sanctions on any customer who, through no fault of his own, sees his SIM card not re-registered.
“At best, if the Minister and the NCA feel that a certain directive has not been followed by customers, they can go to court for instructions, because owning a SIM card grazes citizens’ basic human rights. In fact, the law allows the Minister to sanction the service provider who does not register a SIM card before activation and not the customer,” the statement said.