City residents oppose cellphone towers

by Natural Health Ed
(Brazil)

Not all Namibians are aware of the dangers of Base Transmitter Stations (BTS) and as a result have unknowingly been exposed to cancer, fertility impairment and sleeping disorders.

This was until Bowker Hill residents objected against MTC’s (Namibia’s largest telecommunications operator) plans to construct a BTS in that area.

“Currently serious gaps in City of Windhoekcouncil rulings allow a BTS to go up without adequate scrutiny. Uninformed citizens often welcome installations near them. We hope that any new policy before the council will address health concerns on behalf of the citizens, and not in conflict with the interest of citizens.

Currently there does not seem to be any independent expert input. The input that is there, is supplied mainly by the telecommunications industry itself,” said Anita Brandt, spokesperson for The Bowker Hill Conservancy Group.

However, Albertus Aochamub, the general manager of corporate affairs at MTC, said those against BTS seem to forget that Namibia is not the only country where such technology exists and that MTC does not make policies on the siting of BTS.

“Whilst we respect every citizen’s right to freedom of expression, due care also needs to be taken to present a balanced view of reality to the advancements of all Namibians. MTC will not consciously damage the health of our population,” he added.

There is a need for a policy on BTS siting that will protect citizens from being exposed to harmful effects, Brandt said in response.

She said a BTS should not be located in “sensitive areas” for example near homes and schools.

“We are also not against development or cellphone towers, we all use cellphones and need cellphone masts. But we are asking the City of Windhoek to take the lead on the continent as it has in so many other areas by formulating a BTS siting policy that encourages development but also protects at the same time,” said Brandt.

MTC was recently forced to stop constructing a cellphone tower on the Bowker Hill Klein Windhoek when residents of the area through legal channels objected to the siting of such a tower in their area.

But according to Aochamub, no construction was stopped, it was only delayed because of the residents’ objections and construction will continue once all technicalities are resolved with the City officials. “If it is true that MTC wants to commence construction again, we can prove that the majority of residents around Bowker Hill does not want a mast, as Klein Windhoek and Ludwigsdorf already have cellphone reception. In Eros Park, construction actually started and had to be stopped after objections,” said Brandt.

Liz Sibindi, acting manager: corporate communication & tourism at the City of Windhoek declined to comment on the matter.

Written by Lorato Khobetsi
Thursday, 01 April 2010 08:48

www.economist.com.na

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