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Sierra Leone News: Smart mobile up in the air

Barely three years in existence in Sierra Leone, workers of Smart mobile company have expressed total dissatisfaction over management for what they described as a breach of contract.
The Customer Service and Operations Manager, Emmanuel Marrah, with a cross-section of other staff explained that Smart mobile was established in 2014. Smart is majorly owned in Cyprus and 5% of shares are local. “At first it was smooth sailing with the nationals from Cyprus being at top management. The company was trying to expand when the Ebola epidemic hit. This affected our operations, but after the scourge, the situation started improving and the company resume its expansion plans”.
Marrah added that plans were underway to expand and improve on the network. By the end of January the Chief Executive Officer of the company, rather left his seat abruptly, informing staff that he was attending a meeting and will be back in few weeks. “As I speak, he has not returned and three months later the foreign finance director also left without any explanation to staff, and has not returned.”
Over 80 staff are left languishing with no central command from top management. Another aggrieved staff member, Festus Emmanuel, said the acting Chief of Commercial, Ann-Marie Davies Cole, was the In-charge and together they battled to keep the company afloat. As a result of several huge debts incurred earlier by the company, the situation started turning sour and the boat started to rock. Since April, there is backlog of salaries and other benefits to be paid to staff who do not know their fate.
The Industrial Court shut down the Smart operations and sealed the office doors in Lumley. The company’s access code (044) ceased operating and most staff stayed away from the locked office.
Finance Manager, Bami Lebbie, admitted that the company owes a backlog of salaries and other staff benefits. But he quickly stated that the company was trying to see how together the ship would overcome the storm and the challenges of all backlogs, settled peacefully. He said, “I’m calling on my colleagues to exercise patience and look forward for Government’s intervention, in order that what happened at Comium will not repeat at Smart”.
The Consumer and Public Affairs Director, NATCOM, Abdul Kuyateh said NATCOM had visited and spoke with staff in February when the situation started to get worse. At that time, he allayed their fears and said that Government will intervene to salvage their plight. “I don’t want to comment on recent happenings and the meeting held by the aggrieved staff, as I am not updated of what transpired, but NATCOM will follow-up on the issue,” Kuyateh said.
The In-charge, Ann-Marie Davies Cole, could not be reached at her Africell and Airtel lines, for comment.
By Ade Campbell
Friday November 03, 2017.

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