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Confusion as NCC, CLO differ on health risks of telecoms masts in residential areas

Barely few days after the telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) gave a clean bill of health on the presence of telecom masts around residential areas on grounds of no proven case(s) of hazards, the Civil Liberty Organisation (CLO) yesterday in Abuja urged Nigerians to desist from Lobbying telecommunication operators to install masts in their homes due to the adverse health implications.

Explaining issues at a two-day public hearing on the ‘Health Implications of the Mounting of Telecommunication Masts Close to Buildings,’ National Coordinator of Legal Assistance Network at the CLO, Mr. Aba Ejembi, condemned telecommunication operators’ preference to mount masts at people’s homes despite the negative health implications, rather than complying with the guidelines. The public hearing was organised by the House of Representatives.

He said “Report from Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency shows that in its Dunanon Local Government District, residents that are between one and five kilometres from masts have several cancer cases, including prostate, lungs, leukaemia, lymphoma and haematopoietic cancers”.

Ejembi said studies showed that there were salient, long term problems that might affect the residents’ health, especially those living very close to the mast location.

Continuing, CLO boss decried that “Despite knowing the implications, some people in the urban areas still lobby to have masts located in their premises for that extra income for school fees, feeding and medical bills”.

“It is a combination of abject poverty and crass ignorance that make people in the rural areas to gladly jump at the monetary offer for the lease of their premises for the installation of masts,’’ he said.

“Also, some of the masts that are erected are not very strong and there have been cases of towers falling down, causing environmental nuisance.

However, CLO charged the National Assembly to embark on oversight of the regulatory bodies to ensure a more effective regulatory and enforcement practice in the country, stressing that there is need to compel the telecommunication companies to site their masts in compliance with internationally accepted standards.