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Phone companies ordered to conduct environmental study
Tanzania Created: 19 Aug 2008
The National Environment Management Council (NEMC) has directed all mobile phone companies in the country to conduct Environment Impact Assessment (IEA) study before erecting any mobile phone masts. Speaking at a press conference held in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the NEMC Director General, Mr Boneventure Baya, said the council had also directed the companies to suspend on-going construction of the towers until EIA had been conducted.

He said that the companies were required by law to conduct the assessments, failure of which they would be taken to task. “After conducting the EIA, the companies are required to submit the reports to NEMC and the council will meet with other stakeholders to examine and approve or disapprove the projects,” the Director General pointed out.

He mentioned other stakeholders who would examine the reports as Tanzania Communication Regulatory Commission (TCRA), Tanzania Atomic Energy Commission and Regional Administration and Local Government. The Director General also said they had directed the companies to conduct environment audit to the already constructed towers and submit the reports to the council within four months.

The deadline expires in October this year. According to him, NEMC has decided to direct them to observe the law, following complaints from the public and mushrooming of the towers even in residential areas. “We’ve received complaints and inquiries on safety of the towers and procedures involved before the construction of the towers. Some local authorities such as Temeke municipality have asked for guidelines on the same.

“In short, there’re serious concerns as the towers are currently constructed haphazardly posing health and environmental hazards, so remedial measures must be taken to address the situation,” insisted Mr Baya. The Director General mentioned some of the hazards as emission of gases and radiation, vibration, land destruction, noise pollution and destruction of biodiversity.

“Despite their importance in communication, we cannot allow them to build the towers haphazardly because they will cause disasters” Mr Baya noted. He further said that NEMC would conduct environmental audit to the already constructed towers and where necessary, the towers would be removed.

The Director General revealed that Tanzania was lacking clear standards of the construction of the towers and sufficient research on the same, adding that such flaws may lead to disputes between 'wananchi' and mobile phone companies. According to him, some building permits used by the mobile phone companies in constructing the towers were dubious and therefore such towers were not supposed to be in place.

He also said that members of the public had been complaining that in some instances, they were not involved nor notified on the construction of the towers. Mr Baya said due to the magnitude and seriousness of the issue, NEMC will convene a meeting with all stakeholders to discuss the matter and come up with effective and cohesive measures. He urged local authorities to make sure that they abide by laws when issuing building permits and that people who were interested to lease their plots to the companies must first consult the council for guidance.
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Source: DailyNewsOnline, 19 Aug 2008

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