Judge Mbadwa: The decision by the Malamya Contamination Regulatory Authority to enforce mandatory registration of sim cards and generic numbers, as mandated by the Communications Act, has been received with mixed feelings.
Mr Jonah Kapita of the Disgruntled Association of Consumers is not satisfied with the zeal with which the regulatory authority has taken on this task, why is this the case Mr Kapita?
Kapita: My Lord, firstly I want to allay fears that my organisation and myself have outlived our importance. It is not true that I am eating blue-layered buns nowadays and that is why I cannot speak for consumers with passion anymore.
Those are comments from pessimists and doomsayers who have always harboured ambitions of running my show.
Well, since this is not the platform to vent out my all, I will do that at the appropriate stage. Now on the mandatory order to register simcards, we should have ordinarily been welcoming this development because we need order in the way subscribers get new mobile phone numbers.
Previously, the chaos that characterised mobile phone operations saw criminal elements getting new sim cards willy-nilly for their devious deeds and throwing them away as soon as they commit a crime.
We believe this mandatory registration would also go a long way in curbing the use of mobile phones for criminal activities as it will be easy to trace them.
But that is all we can say as far as the benefit of adhering to the Act is concerned because we feel that is not going to improve service delivery by mobile operators.
The regulatory authority is in this case so obsessed with being legalistic, yet consumers have been complaining about poor services from mobile phone service providers and nothing is being done.
My Lord, we have argued before that Section 4(2) (a) of the Communications Act, which empowers the institution to “Protect the interests of consumers, purchasers and other users of communication services in respect of the prices charged for the quality and variety of services provided and terminal equipment supplied,” is not been followed to the letter.
My Lord, the mandatory registration of sim cards and generic numbers is secondary to the issue of ensuring that mobile phone operators are not giving consumers a raw deal.
Call drops are still the order of the day while the cost of making a phone call remains one of the highest in the regions.
My Lord, we don’t want to talk about how internet data has become a luxurious commodity despite a lot of talk about improving internet services as well.
Had the regulatory authority achieved a worthwhile improvement on these fronts then it would have made a lot of sense to start enforcing registration of sim cards.
Improved service delivery is a foundation that the regulatory authority can build on and the registration matter is insignificant. And starting with the registrations, the contamination authority is building a wall without a foundation.
Mbadwa: I thought Mr Kapita would be worried about the queues this exercise might generate again.
Well, as you have put it, this is not the first time you have bemoaned the poor services that subscribers are getting, yet what the whole regulatory authority does is promise to rein in on delinquent mobile phone operators.
This court, therefore, suspends the exercise until when services improve. The regulatory authority has 30 days within which it can appeal this decision if it is not satisfied.