MTN faces network shutdown amid fuel crisis

MTN Group is facing a fuel shortage in its biggest African market, Nigeria, which could see its network shut down in the country.

Reuters reported that Nigeria is battling through fuel shortages in recent weeks amid a  long-running dispute over controversial subsidy payments.

MTN Nigeria is the country’s largest mobile operator, with 57 million subscribers, more than double MTN’s count in South Africa, at just under 25 million customers.

MTN Nigeria posted on its Twitter page over the weekend, that the current diesel scarcity in most parts of the country, was “posing a significant threat to quality of service and the ability to optimally operate the network hit by fuel shortages in recent weeks”.

“Most of our base stations and switches are powered round-the-clock by diesel generators, and the current fuel shortage has drastically reduced the availability of diesel supply to key locations,” the group said.

“MTN’s available reserves of diesel are running low and the company must source a significant quantity of diesel in the very near future to prevent a shut down of services across Nigeria.”

“If diesel supplies are not received within the next 24 hours, the network will be seriously degraded,” MTN said in a statement on Saturday.

President Goodluck Jonathan is set to leave office at the end of the month, handing over power to Muhammadu Buhari on May 29.

Closer to home, MTN’s call centre was closed on Sunday as the strike over pay and bonuses at the company continued.

“Dear customers, please note that our services have been disrupted and the call centre has been closed. Please use our self help options. We apologise for any inconvenience caused,” a recorded message said.

Last week, the cellular communications company also had to close its e-billing portal after security flaws were exposed.

Communication Workers Union Deputy General Secretary Thabo Mogalane told News24 the union had reached an agreement with MTN over many of the disputed issues already, and it was just the approximately 3,000 staffers’ bonuses and salary increases that were outstanding.

Call centre staff in Gauteng and Limpopo had been on a go slow, and then went on a protected strike last Wednesday.

Representatives of the union and MTN would meet again on Monday for feedback on revised positions.

Reporting with News24Wire

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MTN faces network shutdown amid fuel crisis