Namibia: Opposition Grows to MTC Towers

This article reminds me of a battle that a nearby community in Oregon faced in the last few years as AT&T had ideas of utilizing tax credits to fund the building of a new mobile phone tower. Aside from the potential hazards to the health of local citizens, this tower would have been an eyesore in this pristine coastal town. Ironically that is how they had to fight it – based on how ugly it would have been and how much it would stick out.

You might be wondering why they wouldn’t simply argue on the merits of the health effects?

It’s called the “Telecommunications Act of 1996” and it’s a doozy. This blatently unconstitutional document forbids anyone apposing the construction of a tower from apposing based on health effects. The idea was to speed up the construction of new towers by creating less valid opposition. At the time there was less data to support the idea the these towers were hazardous although the belief was still held strong by many.

I think the “Telecommunications Act of 1996” needs to be repealed. It’s terribly outdated and favors industry far too much. What do you think?


New Era (Windhoek)

Desie Heita

15 July 2011

Windhoek — Renewed international debate on mobile phones and cancer has given strength to Windhoek’s upper class suburb residents who oppose the erection of a mobile telecommunication tower in their residential area to continue to resist its erection near their homes.

This has irritated the country’s largest mobile network operator, MTC, which says it is not the only one with communication towers in the country.

Residents at Bowker Hill, Windhoek, have now added the danger to radiation exposure, and possibly cancer, as one of the main reasons why MTC should not be allowed to set up a telecommunication mast in their area.

The mobile network operator claims unfair treatment, saying residents are exaggerating the truth, misleading the public on the issue of radiation and cancer, while they remain mum about towers erected by competing mobile companies.

“Truth of the matter is that these few residents want to proclaim Bowker Hill as a conservancy and that is why they do not want a tower in the area, while they themselves make use of cellphones that are powered by towers in surrounding areas,” says MTC chief spokesperson Tim Ekandjo.

He says the absence of a tower in that area would congest network, resulting in more radiation – which residents claim to want to avoid – since any call made in an area where network is poor uses more power.

Ekandjo says the public must first understand that the World Health Organisation has not confirmed that cellular phones cause cancer, and its latest “findings are clear that there is no evidence mobile phones can cause brain cancer”.

WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer recently reclassified cellphones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”, a classification of possible risk and not an actual confirmation.

Interestingly, the International Agency for Research on Cancer also classifies coffee, pickled vegetables, and other diverse items such as exposure to car exhaust and doing nightshift work, as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.

WHO classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” based on an increased risk for Glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer associated with the use of wireless phone.

It did however admit that the classification was based on limited and inadequate information, as well as weak mechanistic evidence at its disposal.

MTC is adhering to recommendations by the WHO on the matter and Ekandjo points at “voluntarily measuring its base stations to ensure that it not only complies with international standards, but radiation limits are way less than what international standards prescribe”.

Thus far, MTC is the only telecommunications operator that complies with WHO recommendations and had such measures independently verified, said Ekandjo.

MTC says the issue of radiation should not only be confined to MTC towers in Namibia but to all towers and all items now classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” and that a holistic approach is taken by the entire industry.

“We will support the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia in every endeavour to ensure all consumers are protected by being the shining example in terms of compliance and carry out studies that will guide any regulation to this effect,” he said.

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