Africell, Airtel risk reputations in fibre cable row


The fight over fibre optic cables is about to taint the reputations of two giant telecoms, Airtel and Africell Uganda.

Last week, Africell accused Airtel of diverting over 200km of internet fibre belonging to Africell to their lines in areas of Entebbe, Bwaise, Bugolobi, 6th street in Kampala, Jinja and some parts of Northern Uganda.

Airtel denies: counteraccusation  

Airtel responded in a statement accusing Africell of damaging cables in Kampala in violation of a search warrant issued by Nakawa Magistrates Court.

Airtel says even Uganda Communications Commission [UCC] the regulator is aware of the matter dismissing Africell claims as “falsehoods intended to injure their reputation”.

Airtel promised to hold Africell accountable for the damage caused.

Africell fires back

On Monday, Africell issued another statement expressing disappointment in Airtel Uganda for providing “inaccurate and false information to the general public regarding the status of the fibre optic cables as well as matters in court”.

Africell handlers said in the recent past, Africell discovered that huge amounts of fibre optic cables were missing from its network construction sites.

Africell through its technical and security team launched an investigation into the matter in pursuit of its missing cables.

“As a law abiding citizen, Africell reported the matter to Uganda Police and sought their assistance to investigate the matter in accordance with the law.”

On 20th April 2016, a search warrant was issued by the Chief Magistrate’s Court at Nakawa by which the Uganda Police was authorized “to search and seize fibre optic cables suspected to belong to Africell”.

“It is important to note that the search warrant was issued after the court was satisfied that there was reasonable suspicion that the fibre optic cables within suspected parts of Kampala and Jinja belonged to Africell.”

Furthermore, the search warrant required the Uganda Police to carry the seized fibre optic cables to court.

At no time did Africell or its agents, employees or servants violate the terms of the search warrant issued by the court.

“Such violation is inconceivable because the warrant required the Uganda Police to search and seize, not Africell.”

“Airtel Uganda has in fact filed proceedings against the Attorney General (not Africell) by which they seek to stop the seizure of fibre optic cables suspected to belong to Africell. Clearly the proceedings in court are against a party, not being Africell.”

Africell now says Airtel in their press release have been seriously distorted without any truth in them.

The court which issued the search warrant summoned the Attorney General as well as other interested parties to court on 22nd April 2016.

The court made it clear that the investigations into the missing fibre optic cable must continue.

“Africell is not aware about any interim order issued against it or any pending main application against it in court. The statements made by Airtel in this reference are therefore patently false.”

“Africell assures its customers and other stakeholders that it will await the ongoing investigations by Uganda Police and allow the law to take its course, should its fibre optic cables currently suspected to be in use by Airtel be found to belong to Africell.”

Africell said it has no intention whatsoever to damage Airtel’s reputation as alleged.

However, should it be found that the suspected cables in fact belong to Africell, Africell will take all legal avenues available to it to bring the concerned perpetrators to book.

“This statement therefore serves as our last stand on the issue and will continue to provide relevant information to the media until this matter is settled by the law.”

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