Nigerian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia have decried alleged excessive call rates charged by the Saudi Telecommunications Company, which issued them with free SIM cards through the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria.
The correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria in Medina reports that many pilgrims were complaining of “crazy charges” which had limited their ability to communicate by telephone.
All 95,000 pilgrims from Nigeria received the free SIM cards.
Alhaji Usman Abdullahi from Niger State told NAN that he loaded credit worth 10 Riyals (about N500) on his handset but was only able to make a minute call to Nigeria.
“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 read zero,” he said.
Another pilgrim, Alhaji Malami Gwandu, from Kebbi State said he had since stopped using the Saudi SIM card after discovering that the charges were “excessively high.”
Many pilgrims were also said to have stopped using the STC cards.
An STC official in Medina, who refused to be named, said the charges arose from dual billing.
“The pilgrim is charged by STC and the donor company also charges the pilgrim, effectively reduing the airtime available to the affected subscriber. We have received similar complaints from other pilgrims,” he said.
NAN recalls that an official of the Niger State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Mamman Mohammad, had said in August in Minna that the free SIM cards had “no hidden charges.”
NAN’s efforts to reach the NAHCON Chairman, Alhaji Mohammed Bello, to comment on the matter failed