Getting a PTCL Landline Connection: A Tale

Living in the capital city of Pakistan is a pride and pleasant experience for every one. It is a dream for everyone to live here and enjoy the best facilities including telecom. I remember when Etisalat took over PTCL few years back; we heard stories of strict administration in the company. Higher officials were told to reach the office at sharp 9, reply all the applications for connection and remain in the office till 5 pm. So, I had very good impression about PTCL which was responding sharply to all problems. I think, that was high time for the PTCL as changes and challenges were there for every one; for customers, it was the time to witness the positive change and for the employees to have higher facilities and dedication for the company.

I shifted to my this new house, with the same dream and inspiration I moved to my nearest PTCL exchange situated in rural Islamabad, just 9 minutes drive away from the President house.

First of all, I was greeted by a security guard who guided me to the right building. I entered the main room, where a clerk was collecting applications. When he asked my name, I could not understand, so I asked him, what he was asking, he replied…”app ta lam kia hay aur app ka dhar kieder hay” (What is your name and where is your home).

Then I tried to understand his language and replied all the questions in a smart way. When I asked him about the SDO, he replied “Wo 11 bajay aatay hain“. Then I asked him when I will be connected with the PTCL line, he tried to satisfy me by some promises which were not met by the company for 9 months and now I even don’t bother to have PTCL connection at all.

Another man, sitting next to him told me that the lineman Rasheed will return soon and we will send him for survey and based on his report we will make a decision of connection.

After 5 days and repetitive requests, Rasheed sb finally arrived and gave me the good news of in-availability of connections in my area, despite my home is hardly 500 meters away from the PTCL exchange

“Getting a pair is a big problem bro, but don’t worry I will try my best to get you the connection – though i have number of other applications”, told me Rasheed.

This was my last interaction with PTCL and this happened around 9 months ago. I never dared to ask them the status again.

Last week when I read a column by the renowned columnist Irshad Ahmed Haqani against the PTCL, I suddenly decided to work on PTCL exchange and local staff which is mainly responsible for the basic services. I visited PTCL exchange nearest to my home and asked few questions from my dear staffers. I again asked for connection and they offered me V-Fone, which is simpler solution for PTCL these days.

Then I decided to contact the relevant SDO. I waited in the same room and kept a vigilant eye what was happening around. First I noticed that the complaint register has over 2 thousand pending complains of the service with total connections of the exchange crossed well over 6 thousand.

A woman was very angry while talking to Habib about the service. It was the 12th consecutive day that she was making a call from nearer PCO and asking line man to rectify the problem as his phone was dead. Every time she was told that the line man will approach her in a short time.

Another man, Asghar from near village, was asking again loudly to reinstate the phone which was indecently cut during storm last week.

It was disclosed by Habib that we have closed over 1300 connections during last two years due to non payment of bills or surrender by the clients on complaints of poor service. Due to complaints and un-satisfactory service of the company the average revenue has gone down by 25 % as compared to last year.

One thing which impressed me was that the callers and complainers have good interaction and good will about each other. They were irritated, dejected and angry, still they were requesting as PTCL was very kind to give them a landline connection and they were not ready to deprive of it at any cost. They were still smiling and bearing the poor performers. Habib was attending calls continuously and keeping the record of the complaints. However, humanely it was not possible to make happy every one when there was not commitment by the workers. The piling numbers of complaints by the customers was increasing each day.

After waiting for 2 and half hours finally I found the man who was behind all this poor performance of the exchange. Ch. Nageeb was in 40s and looked very energetic while entering the room. He asked few questions and then moved to his room. While reaching at 11:13 am, he was showing as he was working day and night to make it easier at the exchange. I can’t understand what the responsibility of SDO was?

I enter in his room with a relax mood and as a helpless customer, asked him weather is it possible to get a phone connection or not. I introduced myself as a local resident and he replied my questions with out giving proper attention. He said, “We work hard to deliver the best possible services but the people have an attitude of targeting the PTCL. These people want us to be here all the time. We have families, social life.”

After listening to this heart breaking story, I walked out of the exchange and asked myself whether we will be able to see a better Pakistan in our lives?

I was wondering if capital city has such problems and difficulties in getting a phone connection, then we must think again what will be the miserable condition of the people living in far flung areas.