LoneStarCell/MTN Subscribers Protest Over Halt of Free Call


Monrovia – A day after the announcement by Lonestar Cell/MTN that it is readjusting its three days promotion, several subscribers gathered at the company’s sub office on Broad Street demanding that the three days promotion continues as some claimed that their units taken by the GSM Company should be replaced.

Report by Henry Karmo – [email protected], Bettie Johnson – [email protected]

“Don’t steal from us Lone-star, bring back our three day promotion; give back our money, you stole too long, give us our credits” – A Protestor

The protesters, mainly males, were seen in a fierce and arrogant mood screaming “don’t steal from us Lone-star, bring back our three day promotion; give back our money, you stole too long, give us our credits.”

Arthur Barclay is a phone seller who claimed he recharged his phone with two dollars but unfortunately, he said the company swiped his units.

“I recharged Sunday morning with two dollars – they took it and when I came to sell I recharge another dollar and they sent me congratulation telling me that my phone was activated for the three days promotion but now I’m here to ask why they took the credits from my phone.

Look at the building it is jammed and the problem is Lonestar didn’t inform us and we are afraid that they wouldn’t refund what we lose.” 

He also alleged that the act by the GSM Company is politically motivated.

“But from what we are seeing is the entire act is politically motivated.”

Someone wants to be President and they want to suppress the same people they need and I don’t think this is the way they will get to power, but we will take the best company and I will break my lone-star Sim card.”

Like Barclay, Tetee Togba is another victim who claimed that the units loaded in her phone was criminally taken away.

“I put my money in my phone last night and they took everything so I tried to call customer care but no response.

“And you see me; I came from Diggsville early this morning so I’m here to know how the money left the phone. So they (Company) said we should put our names down they will resend the money, and they asked us out of the office but I am not leaving till the money is replace.”

A student of University of Liberia, Wesley Brown, said the company requested the crowd to cease the tension but to no avail as security guards were seen protecting the entrance of the office.

“They are asking for the tension to go down, but for now calls are not going to any other GSM companies, so I’m going to drop my Lonestar sim and subscribe with Cellcom.

I learned they took Novafone but no improvement because the net is so slow and this is not encouraging,” Brown added.

Deception or backpedaling?

In October 2016 , when the two leading GSM operators in the country appeared before members of the joint legislative committee on ways, means and finance and judiciary, Lonestar Cell/MTN assured the lawmakers that the decision to impose the tariff could not have affected the three days calls promotion.

The committees, in their report, informed plenary that one of the GSM companies, Lonestar Cell/MTN, noted that the one cent (0.01) charged per minute on all calls would not affect three days intra network calls for a dollar, a point also pushed by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the LRA.

On Sunday January 15, 2017, a month after the legislature amended the tax code, adding 0.1 cent to calls, the company in a text message to its customers stated:

“To this end you are hereby notified that effective immediately and commencing no later than 15 January 2017 telephone services providers shall begin collecting the new excise tax of US$0.01 on all domestic voice calls,” the LTA penned in its communication to GSM Companies.”

Lonestar Cell/MTN announcement  came prior to the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) communication addressed to GSM Companies operating in the country, informing them of the coming into effect Section 1165 of the Amended Revenue Code which was recently passed by an act of legislature and has been signed into law and subsequently printed into handbills.