On Thursday, Ogero CEO Imad Kreidieh announced that thirty of the operator's telecom plants would soon be shut down due to a lack of fuel. Several plants shut down just hours after the announcement.
Authorities have promised to pay 50 percent of the necessary funds within the next few hours, according to a senior source at the state-owned operator.
Ogero reported several network outages on Thursday, stating that they had been "temporarily interrupted" until fuel oil supplies could be replenished. The company tweeted that services were at a standstill in Beit Mery and Dhour Choueir in Metn, Bentael and Berket Hjoula in the Jbeil region (Mount Lebanon) and Berkayel in Akkar (North).
On Wednesday, following the shutdown of the Minieh and Riad el-Solh plants in Beirut, Kreidieh announced that 30 additional stations would shut down by Sunday due to the operator's financial inability to purchase diesel needed to power the machines.
Recurrent breakdowns hit Ogero's central stations, often due to fuel shortages and equipment theft.
Contacted by L'Orient-Le Jour, a senior source at Ogero said on Wednesday that these "stoppages are just the beginning of a long list that is likely to continue over the coming weeks." "The plants that are still working have fuel in their tanks," explained the source, who confirmed that once these reserves are exhausted, "the exchanges will stop working for good, as the operator doesn't have the money to refuel."
"It's a matter of weeks, or even less, before all our servers shut down and the Internet is completely cut off across the whole of Lebanon," concluded the source on Wednesday. He also called on the Lebanese Parliament to grant Ogero the funds that had been allocated to them and already adopted in the budget to ensure the continuity of the operator's service.
Half of the funds
On Thursday, the same source confirmed that the authorities had promised to transfer the first half of the allocated funds within the next few hours and the second half within the next week.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Finance confirmed that such a payment was planned, without giving any further details about the amounts planned and the origin of the funds. L'Orient-Le Jour contacted the Ministry's General Management for comment and did not receive a response.
According to the source at Ogero, the expected payments also include the social rights granted by the government to the employees, which they should have received "more than six months ago."
On Wednesday, Ogero employees had announced that they would observe a two-day "warning strike" on June 6 and 8, to protest against the deterioration of their living conditions in the context of the economic crisis that has been raging in Lebanon for almost four years.
In March, outgoing Telecoms Minister Johnny Corm suggested that the Lebanese army might "take control" of Ogero, whose employees had been on strike for a week. The strike ended shortly after Mr. Corm's statement.