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Community 8 Residents Want Erection Of Masts Stopped
Ghana Created: 16 Dec 2008
Residents of Tema Community 8 near the P road residential area have called on the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restrain a mobile telecommunications company from nstalling a communications mast over their houses because of the health hazards and dangers the masts will pose to them.

In a petition copied to the TMA and the EPA the residents entreated the regulatory bodies to come to their aid to save them from any future health problems.

According to them, reports obtained from scientific research indicate that such erected phone masts and towers are sources of harmful radioactive and electromagnetic emissions, which are harmful to individuals and communities who live near them.

Speaking on their behalf, Mr Joseph K. Okaikoi, also a resident, said they got up one morning only to find that trenches had been dug out. They returned from work another day to find a concrete platform mounted ready for the mast to be installed on it.

He said it was unfortunate that the communications company, which they did not know, could ignore their feelings and go ahead to do the concrete works.

Mr Okaikoi expressed the view that owners of the project could have moved the site some distance away from their residential areas as there was sufficient space for them to do that.

Now he claimed that owners of the houses could not enter their houses with their cars as they had been left with a small lane to use.

Mr Okaikoi appealed to the assembly to have the mast relocated before it becomes too late and to save them from future health hazards as a result of the radioactive and electromagnetic emissions from the mast.

He, however, said residents would advise themselves if their plea to the assembly and the EPA was not considered.

Efforts by the Daily Graphic to contact the metropolitan engineer on the issue were not successful but the Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr David Quaye Annang, said he would call for the file and find out what actually happened.

An official of the Tema office of the EPA, Mr John Tettey, said he could not comment on the issue because some of the approvals did not come through the Tema office.

He said the problem started with the allocation of the plot and that often officials from the EPA only chanced on the masts and thereby got to know about them.

When the Daily Graphic went round, it came to light that masts were increasing in number in the metropolis with their red lights flashing at the top to signify their presence at night.
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Source: Graphic Ghana, Rose Hayford Darko, 16 Dec 2008

Telecom desecrates royal cemetary to install mast
Ghana Created: 10 Nov 2008
The chiefs and people of Osu have described as highly provocative and sacrilegious the desecration of the burial place of Osu Royals at the Ringway Estates with the erection of a mast by Zain Ghana Limited, a mobile telecommunications company.

Briefing newsmen at the Royal Mausoleum where all prominent Osu chiefs and other leaders have been buried for over 200 years, Asafoatse Nii Akapeh II of the Osu Mankralo Stool said the Asafo companies, the youth and elders would "take appropriate action for the trespassers to feel the consequences of this insult to our history and tradition".

Bulldozers have flattened some of the royal tombs and in their place a giant tower erected to facilitate the work of the telecommunications company.

When contacted, Mr Geir Austin, a consultant to Zain, said the cemetery was given to the company as a lease hold by Nii Ako Nortei, one of the chiefs of Osu.

The Royal Mausoleum, known traditionally as "Amanprobi", has remained a sacred place for the people of Osu and is rarely entered except for the burial of a royal or during Homowo, when Nii Akapeh, as the War Leader, leads the Asafo companies in a militant visit to the ancestral resting place.

Nii Akapeh lamented that at a time when the government said it was doing everything possible to give back some lands to the Ga people, a son of the Ga tradition could dare sell their ancestral heritage for money.

He noted, however, that the action be fiercely resisted.

Zain is embroiled in another tussle with residents of Adabraka over the erection of another mast at a place near the Glenns Night Club.

The company has also been restrained by an Accra High Court from constructing a phone mast at a house at Adjiringano, a suburb of Accra.

The order took effect from Friday, October 17, 2008.

The court gave the order following an application for an order of interim injunction to restrain the company from constructing the phone mast at No.14 Manor Valley Road which was filed on behalf of some residents of Adjiringano by Mr Kojo Graham, the Executive Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Civil Liberties (CHUCIL), an NGO.

According to the residents, checks from regulatory bodies had proved that the company was putting up the mast without the requisite approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Tema Municipal Assembly (TMA), the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), among other regulatory bodies.
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Source: Joy Online, 10 Nov 2008

Court Restrains Telecom From Erecting Mast
Ghana Created: 21 Oct 2008
The High Court in Tema has restrained Zain Ghana Limited, a mobile telecommunications company, from constructing a phone mast at a house at Adjiringano, a suburb of Accra. The order, which took effect from Friday, October 17, 2008 is valid for 10 days.

The court gave the order following an application for an order of interim injunction to restrain the company from constructing the phone mast at No.14 Manor Valley Road which was filed on behalf of some residents of Adjiringano by Mr Kojo Graham, the Executive Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Civil Liberties (CHUCIL), an NGO.

According to the residents, checks from regulatory bodies had proved that the company was putting up the mast without the requisite approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA), the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), among other regulatory bodies.

They further argued that phone masts and towers were internationally known and reported, through scientific research and case studies, to be sources of harmful radioactive and electromagnetic emissions against individuals and communities living near and within the environs of erected phone masts and towers.

In the substantive suit, the plaintiffs, Alex Dodoo, Leslie Dodoo, Caroline Ama Ennin, John Nii Sackey Odametey, Ellis K. Ashiagbor and George Ofori, are seeking a declaration that the erection and construction of a phone mast and tower by Zain is unlawful and illegal.

They are also praying the court to permanently restrain the company and its agents from constructing a phone mast at the said area, as well as an order restraining it from constructing a mast within the Tema metropolitan area without the requisite regulatory approvals and clearance.

They are further praying the court to award general damages and costs in their favour.

An affidavit accompanying the writ stated that some time during the first week of October 2008, the plaintiffs spotted workmen excavating a deep and wide foundation trench within the precincts of House No. 14 Manor Valley Road, Adjiringano in the Greater Accra Region.

According to the affidavit, a few days after the excavation, residents observed the construction and erection of a huge phone mast and tower where the excavation had taken place.

It said the plaintiffs subsequently met an officer of the company on the premises, who confirmed that the defendant company was erecting the phone mast and tower and further claimed that the company had already received and paid for all the necessary permits and approvals.

However, according to the affidavit, on October 13, 2008 the plaintiffs followed up their search at the Tema offices of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and were informed that the defendant company had not been given a permit to construct the mast.

The affidavit stated that although one WO I Agbagba had given the land to the defendant company to construct the mast, the law did not permit such agreements, especially when the land was not being used for its original purpose.

It consequently described the transaction between WO I Agbagba and the defendant company as “void and bereft of legal effect”.

The plaintiffs stated that the defendant company was erecting the phone mast tower at a furiously fast pace, in complete disregard of the objections of the plaintiffs.

They further argued that the unlawful erection of phone masts and towers by mobile telephone operators in residential and educational environs had become such a menace and blamed such practices on the lack of enforcement on the part of the authorities.
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Source: Graphic Ghana, Mabel Åku Baneseh, 20 Oct 2008

Chief expresses concern about increases in Telecommunication Masts
Ghana Created: 4 Sep 2008
Nana Kwaku Bio, Chief of Essienimpong in the Ejisu Juaben Municipality in the Ashanti Region, has expressed concern about the increasing rate at which telecommunication mast were being erected across the country.

He was of the opinion that these masts had some health risk pose by electromagnetic radiation, hence the need to check its spread.

Nana Kwaku Bio expressed the concern in an interview with Ghana News Agency (GNA) at Essienimpong on Friday.

He explained that telecommunication masts, which were supposed to be far from human settlement were now been built in the mist of human settlement and this was posing serious health threat to those who stayed closed to the masts.

He said diseases such as cancers, especially brain tumor and leukaemia, cardiovascular problem, fluctuations in blood pressure, neurological effects, including sleeping disturbance, learning difficulties, depression, frequent headache and viral and infectious diseases as some of the health problems posed by the telecommunication masts build close to human settlements.
Nana Bio said findings by health researchers have revealed that the masts could also cause reproductive effects like miscarriage among women.
He urged government, the national Communication Authority and the Media Commission to be up and doing by bringing the telecommunication companies and radio operators to book to save Ghanaians from the health problems posed by the masts.
He appealed to district assemblies to monitor the building of masts in their communities in order to control the health risk posed by the masts.
He was quick to add that even though Ghanaians need the services of those companies to develop, “their health conditions should not be played with”.
Nana Bio, entreated the companies that put up masts in the country to desist from building their masts at the mist of human settlement, to prevent people from being infected with diseases whose spread has been associated with the masts.
He suggested that the transmitters be built over a wide area from three to nine miles away from human settlement.
He called on the Parliament to enact laws to regulate the building of masts in the country, “but if there is one it should be enforcement”.
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Source: Modern Ghana, 02 Sep 2008

EPA again!
Ghana Created: 30 Jul 2008
Citi Fm, an Accra based radio station reported yesterday that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stopped Zain mobile phone Company from erecting a mast at Mangoase, a suburb of Sekondi, since they did not have the permit to do so. The radio station also quoted the EPA as having ordered other mobile telephone companies who had sited their masts in the area to apply for permit.

Few days ago, Metropolitan Television (Metro TV) also reported that the residents of Mangoase have threatened to go on demonstration to protest against the siting of so many masts in the area, whose radiation level could pose as health hazards to them.

The Chronicle congratulates the EPA for its swift intervention in the matter. If the radiation from the mast could affect the health of the people, then something ought to be done before the situation exacerbates. As the adage goes, prevention is better than cure. It will be better to stop the haphazard erection of these masts, so that they will be done in a lawful and orderly way that would not pose as a threat to human life. The Chronicle is, however, disappointed that it has taken the EPA such a long time before intervening in the issue. EPA has a regional office in Sekondi, yet they overlooked the siting of the masts. We find this attitude in some of the public officials who always wait for reports before taking decisions as very unfortunate. Indeed, if the radiation from the mast was that deadly, the people of Mangoase would have died long before the EPA's intervention.

It is important to note that the EPA has offices in Kumasi, yet they failed to properly surpervise the construction of a gas station, leading to its explosion and loss of precious lives. The EPA only came out with a lame excuse that the owner of the station did not have a permit from them, after innocent people have lost their lives when the gas cylinder exploded.

We think it is about time people put in positions of responsibility began to act promptly to prevent disasters from happening, instead of waiting for it to occur before taking remedial measures. Any visitor to Sekondi-Takoradi would agree that the masts being complained about are not in obscure areas; therefore it would be wrong alibi for the EPA to say that they could not locate them.

Surely, Ghana as a country needs investments to expand her economy, but that should not be done at the expense of the people's lives. We suggest that the masts should be immediately relocated, if investigation proves that its radiation could be injurious to the health of the people of Mangoase and its environs.
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Source: Modern Ghana, Editorial, 29 Jul 2008

EPA order Westel and Celtel to stop erection of mast
Ghana Created: 26 Jul 2008
The Western Regional Branch of the Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Westel and Celtel Mobile Communication Companies to stop work on the erection of their mast at Housing, Mangoase Residential area in Takoradi and secure permit before they go ahead with the project. The EPA has also directed Tigo, Ghana Telecom and MTN which already have their masts in operation in the area to stop operations and follow the same procedure for securing permit from the Agency.

In this regard, it has called on residents of the area to monitor the activities of mobile phone communication companies in the area, especially Westel and Celtel to make sure they do not continue with the digging of the trenches.

The move by the EPA comes after 20 members of the Housing, Mangoase Residential Area Association petitioned it to impress upon the mobile communication companies which have erected their masts in the area to remove them because of the health hazards associated with their operations.

The EPA explained that the procedure to legally operate involves the acquisition of Environmental Assessment Form One, filling and submission of the forms and the subsequent sitting of a technical review committee to either accept to grant a company the right to operate or not.

According to the EPA none of the mobile phone communication companies operating in the area has got permit from them.
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Source: Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, 25 Jul 2008

Ghana Created: 20 May 2008
We congratulate the International Telecommunications Union for the focus and theme of this year’s International Telecommunications and Information Society Day, observed on May 15: 'Connecting persons with disabilities: the opportunity of ICT'.

Speaking at the flag-hoisting ceremony in Accra, the Deputy Minister of Communications, Mr Frederick Opare-Ansah, stated that the ministry is to enact legislation to protect the communications sector and also establish Ghana as a safe place for ICT to flourish.

We fully support the creative idea of opening up the world of ICT to the disabled and the marginalised because ICT is now the currency of development and self improvement. Nobody should be left out.

And we are especially enthused about the idea of the government introducing laws and regulations to protect the sector, as the Minister stated.

However, we would also like to draw attention to the need, similarly, to formulate regulations for operators in the sector to forestall any possible health threat to the public.

Specifically, we have in mind the problems posed by mobile phone masts, or towers, or cell towers, as they are variously called.

The ever-growing popularity of mobile phones and the ever-expanding spread of the operators, means that mobile phone masts are springing up all over the place.

Nobody disputes that mobile or cell phones have now become an indispensable part of life.

But it is also a fact that in some developed countries, countries that have been using mobile phones much longer than we have, the issue of possible health risks from emissions of the masts is a matter of great controversy.

Some people there have been very actively campaigning to prevent the location of these masts in residential areas and near schools. They claim that there is risk of cancer from the emissions from the masts.

However, we are also aware that others insist that that there is as yet no proof that the masts emit anything that is a danger to health and that they are as safe as the mobile phones themselves.

Nevertheless, in our view, there is no harm in the National Communications Authority looking at the Ghanaian situation and taking regulatory steps to ensure that the towers are located far from residential areas, to protect the public in case of any future research findings supporting the danger theory.

The possible dangerous emissions are not the only problem.

In a case with which we are familiar at Dormaa-Ahenkro, in the Brong-Ahafo Region, a mammoth mast, powered by a very noisy generator, has been located in a residential area; in fact between two houses.

Thus the hapless residents have to endure the noise, akin to a loud corn mill, 24 hours a day.

Even if for now there is no proof that masts emit harmful rays, in our opinion nobody should have to put up with such unrelenting noise in their homes every blessed day. It cannot be doing them any good.

Such invasions of people’s privacy and peace of mind should not be allowed and we urge the NCA to go on inspection tours and give guidance to local authorities and uninformed communities on these matters.

Surely, this should be part of the NCA’s duties.
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Source: Modern Ghana, 19 May 2008

Do mobile phones have health implications?
Ghana Created: 16 Oct 2007
Do mobile phones really cause cancer of any kind? Is their use in any way connected with the occurrence of diseases such as leukemia and impotence?

I first raised these issues way back in 1998. Nine years on and nothing concrete has been done to address it.

Quite clearly, what has happened since I drew the nation’s attention to these facts is the increase in subscription rates of mobile phone companies and accompanying increase in the number of sophisticated handsets that Ghanaians use.

I don’t remember how many Ghanaians were using mobile phones in 1998, but as at March 2007 there are nearly 5 million or more Ghanaians using handsets.

Scientific evidence

Some scientists say that the technology used by the communications industry emits a type of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) that poses a health hazard to people. But local mobile phone companies, on the other hand, say, "it is only speculation."

Indeed, mobile phones have become the most convenient mode of communication these days. And this technological advancement has turned the world into a globalised village, and Ghanaians are happily part of it. But at what costs?

For a mobile phone to send and receive calls, it must be within range of a transmitting tower. A mobile phone works just like a radio does: if you are too far from the station’s signal, your radio (or phone) cannot pick up the music (or receive a call). Radio stations, in order to transmit to a larger area erect transmission towers. Mobile phone companies also use transmission towers to relay messages to users at great distances.

The towers, and to a lesser extent, the hand sets, generate electromagnetic radiation (EMR). While most EMR is not considered to be dangerous to humans, scientific study shows that the EMR from mobile phone, radio and TV transmitter towers very likely is.

Prof. Kofi Oduro-Afriyie, a Physicist at the University of Ghana, Legon, admits that no specific research has been done with regards to mobile phones in Ghana, but quickly confirmed that EMR is a known health hazard.

And he says, "even though our human bodies need a certain level of radiation to survive, too much of it will cause genetic mutations, leukemia, cancer and impotence." He added, "electromagnetic radiation is all the more dangerous because these diseases take about 20 years before they show."

Evidence of the danger comes from studies done in other countries. For example, the "EMFacts Information Service" a publication specialized on radiation issues in Australia, states that "although the exposure to the radiation from mobile phone towers is extremely low, the risk of cancer and other diseases is increased when the exposure is for long periods" such as for people living near these towers.

EMFacts also reports that a research team led by Dr B. Hockings found that children living within four kilometres of TV transmission towers in Sydney showed higher rates of childhood leukemia, the disease most often implicated with exposure to EMR. In fact "childhood leukemia in the exposed (closer) group was 60 per cent higher than in the control (further) group."

In this study, the level of EMR was 1000 times lower than the Australian standard. Of great concern to researchers is that children seem to be more affected by EMR than are adults.

In other research, a 1990 study by Richard Hayes found that men who were exposed to micro and radio waves had a greater incidence of testicular cancer. A 1987 study by Dr W. Morton of the University of Oregon's Health Science Centre, found excess cancer among people living close to radio and TV broadcast towers.

A Polish study found that soldiers exposed to EMR suffered from increased rates of leukemia and lymphoma. At the same time, Drs Henry Lai and Narendra Singh in Seattle, USA, found that exposing rats to 'safe' levels of radiation resulted in increased breaks in the DNA of their brain cells – and damage to DNA is associated with the initiation of cancer.

Expanding networks

Whatever the health risks and associated demands on Ghana’s health budget, the mobile telephony companies are here to make profit, and they won't be the ones paying the hospital bills, so what do they have to lose?

Ghana's trade liberalization policy, linked with a desire to strengthen the private sector, the zeal to open the country’s doors for Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) has opened the door to a proliferation of private phone, radio and TV companies.

These companies are employing aggressive and competitive marketing strategies, they have together won millions of Ghanaians. With the growing demand for more services, the number of transmission towers will multiply and they are on a daily basis. These expansions are being pursued without considering the possible health hazards associated with the EMR these towers pour into their surroundings.

And these days, it is not uncommon to see cell sites and transmission towers sited in densely populated areas, and these apart from the dangers of radiation do pose physical dangers to residents. A recent incident in Tema where a transmission tower collapsed over a building during rainstorms is an example.

Contrary evidence

The mobile phone companies appear unconcerned. For them profit is everything. To them the issues that are being raised by scientists are speculations with no real proof. And of course evidence exists elsewhere showing that some very influential mobile telephony companies have commissioned scientific researches of their own that have shown proof to the contrary – that there are no dangers to health from using mobile phones.

To achieve their lofty targets and maximize profits, the mobile phone providers are "extolling the benefits and denying the risks, in spite of mounting scientific evidence to the contrary. In the face of these challenges, what should be done in Ghana? What national safety standards should be set to regulate EMR emission levels?

Regulating the industry

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency responsible for regulating the environmental activities of businesses, has not identified the mobile phone companies as having a significant impact on the environment. According to an EPA insider, mobile phone companies are required to register with the EPA but not to submit Environmental Impact Assessments before they commence business.

The Ghana Standards Board (GSB) has likewise not considered setting standards for mobile phones. A source stated that they respond to the immediate needs of the country and that when a need is identified, they are willing to work on it. If faced with the evidence, they will study it and set up a technical committee to come out with standards.

The National Communications Authority (NCA), seems to simply give licenses for mobile companies to operate. They even lack the necessary clout to get these companies to meet the requirements for their operations such as providing quality services for their subscribers.

Until recently, when the NCA showed that it has got teeth, it has always been seen as a toothless bulldog. It opened wide its mouth to bring some sanity into the industry by ordering Onetouch and MTN to clean-up their acts. They also ordered the two companies to halt any further signing on of new subscribers until they improved their services.

But it is yet to be seen, whether they can really bite, because, there is strong suspicion among Ghanaians that the companies are still increasing their subscriber base even after the directive.

Benchmarks for radiation control

Ghana can take a cue from other countries of the world that already have permissible levels of radiation emission.

Countries, like the USA, Britain, New Zealand and Australia, have set national standards to prevent high levels of electromagnetic radiation and the resulting illnesses in their citizens.

The situation in Ghana, which has no EMR safety standards, is all the more disturbing because the mobile phone companies doing business here have not taken precautions to protect their customers.

For example, salesmen of some of these companies are themselves unaware of the safety issues of mobile phone usage. When asked about what they tell customers, they simply said, 'we tell our customers not to use the phone often - because it is expensive."

Another salesman said he advises his customers to get a leather jacket for their phones and to carry them somewhere other than a breast pocket to minimize the health dangers such as cancer.

However, one marketing manager ruled these out as safety measures, insisting that they only advise customers to get leather jackets to prevent scratches on the phone.

About 20 mobile phone users who were interviewed confirmed they have only been taught how to use the phones, nothing more. Nothing was mentioned to them by company employees about health dangers associated with mobile phone usage.

Lack of adequate information

The communications companies would like their customers to believe that there is no health controversy. Neither would they like the people who are living and working near their transmission towers to question the effects of the electromagnetic radiation these towers give off.

However, in other parts of the world, the controversy rages on and for us in Ghana, the emerging facts about the issues can be looked at carefully in our context.

Looking at our Ghanaian situation, where we have limited, if not zero resources to handle the ill effects of electromagnetic radiation, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.

It is our duty to inform our people, so they can make informed choices.

It was nine years ago when I first raised the flag, but no one seemed to have seen it.

Dr Bockings, the Australian Researcher, recommended then, that, "it would be prudent for some countries to set up perspective epidemiological cancer studies of possible effects of mobile phones -both base stations (transmission towers) and hand held units - so that in 10 years we have some answers."

This advice was given at the time I first wrote on this subject in 1998.

I hope government would initiate moves with environmental groups and research institutions; with funding from the mobile phone, radio and TV companies, to conduct studies to establish the facts concerning the possible health hazards associated with communications technologies, so that at least, in Ghana, the tide of the cases of cancer, leukemia and impotence can be stemmed, to prolong the lives of our people.
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Source: MyJoy online, Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, 16 Oct 2007

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