As subscribers decry communication failure
By Sanna Camara
Lamin Camara, deputy permanent secretary, Ministry of Information Technology, has denied that government has blocked the internet portal, Viber.
Speaking to The Standard yesterday in reaction to growing speculation that the facility has been blocked in The Gambia, the official said he was not aware that government has undertaken such a ban.
“These are hiccups or technical faults with networks, and they want to blame it on government. I can tell you that there is nothing on the side of the government to block the service,” said Mr. Camara.
Deputy permanent secretary Camara said some service providers have erratic networks which are also affecting the quality of calls their subscribers can make through Viber. “Issues like traffic congestion affect the quality of their calls – be it Viber or others,” said Camara.
He further explained that when complains started flooding his office about the Viber service in the country, he first thought of the connection activities going on at telecom stations. “At first, I thought it has to do with the new connections underway. But they have not even started connecting to that yet. When I called them, some of them are equally facing bad connection problems with their cell phones,” he explained.
“I have been speaking to my children from the United States this morning through Viber. The service is ok and working well. There is no blockage,” he added.
Another senior government official at the ministry of information who prefers not to be named asked, “If the facility has been blocked, government would have made an announcement to the effect. The national telecommunications firm, GAMTEL, has not made such an announcement yet,” said the official.
He added: “I have used Viber on Thursday night to talk to my family in the US. On Friday morning], I received a text message on Viber. Who said Viber has been blocked?” he enquired.
Asked whether he has tried to call using Viber, the official attempted to do so, just for his cell phone to indicate that “the service has been blocked”; or “there has been a problem with the facility”.
He said this might be network problem, or other temporal problems. “But trust me, it is not blocked,” he said.