Free SIM cards: Pilgrims cry over excessive charges

FILE PHOTO: Many deportees went to Saudi Arabia as pilgrims

Nigerian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia have decried the excessive charges by Saudi Telecommunication Company (STC) which issued them with free SIM cards through the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent in Madina reports that most of the pilgrims were complaining of “crazy charges” which had limited their ability to communicate with their families in Nigeria.

Usman Abdullahi from Niger told NAN that he loaded 10 Riyals (about N500) worth of credit on his handset but was only able to make a call to Nigeria for one minute.

“I was surprised that i could not continue with the call, even though i had a balance of four Riyals; throughout the day and in the morning, my credit balance was reading zero,” he said.

Another pilgrim, Malami Gwandu from Kebbi said he had since stopped using the SIM card after discovering that the charges were “excessively too high”.

Many pilgrims were also said to have stopped using the card.

An official of STC in Madina, who refused to named, said the high charges was a result of dual billing.

”The pilgrims are charged by STC and the donor company also charges the pilgrim effectively reducing the air time available to the affected person. We have received similar complaints from other pilgrims.”

NAN recalls that an official of the Niger Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mamman Mohammad had in August said in Minna that the free SIM cards had “no hidden charges”.

Efforts to contact Chairman of the commission, Mohammed Bello, to comment on the matter was not successful.

All the 95,000 pilgrims from Nigeria were provided with the free SIM card by the commission.

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