Telecoms service providers urged to do more seven months after passage of hurricane

Monday, March 19, 2018

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ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC) — Seven months after Hurricane Maria swept through Dominica destroying the telecommunications system, a senior government minister is urging providers to do more to enable consumers to keep in touch.

Telecommunications, Science and Information Technology, Minister Kelvar Darroux, speaking on the state-owned DBS radio Monday, said in his discussions with the service providers he has always raised the issue.

“We have a responsibility to the consumers of this country, so why is it that you still have certain communities in the country where service is limited or you have no service at all,” he told radio listeners.

Dominica relies mainly on the British telecommunications giant, Cable and Wireless that operates in the region as Flow, and the Irish-owned DIGICEL.

“I believe, and I am speaking now in my capacity as a minister, that they have a responsibility to look at interim measures, while they continue building back up their networks better. So there's no excuse really why someone, let's say in Belles (a small village west of here) …they is no excuse why they should not have some sort of service, some sort of communication six months after the hurricane”.

Darroux said that he has a responsibility to ensure that the consumers get proper service.

“The same with the government services, we have to ensure we get back the critical services that were available on line for government…as soon as possible,” he said, recalling that he had been told by some one of the unavailability of securing the birth certificate on line.

“This is something we have to look at critically. We have to ensure that we are able to provide those services to the people so we could avoid all the wasting of time and that sort of thing. And that's what ICT has to do. ICT is a tool that has to make your life easier, has to make you more efficient in the work that you do,” he said, adding “I believe we have to resolve these issues”.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) says it will be donating in excess of EC$300,000 (US$111,000) for hurricane disaster relief for Dominica's telecommunications sector.

ECTEL said the EC$350,000 (US$129,500) approved by the Council of Ministers to the government and the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) is intended to assist in the recovery efforts following the devastating impact to the telecommunications infrastructure of Dominica.

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