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Nigeria's telcos warned to heed regulations over masts

Nigeria's telcos warned to heed regulations over masts.

Nigeria's National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) has warned telecoms companies in Nigeria to stop erecting telecoms masts near residential buildings. According to the agency, all masts standing less than 10 meters near residential buildings are illegal.

Pointing to health and environmental side effects as reasons for the directive, the agency said the stipulation also affects masts of broadcasting companies.

NESREA has said that operators who fail to comply with the order will have to face legal action.

Director General of NESREA, Dr Lawrence Anukam issued the warning in Abuja at an interactive forum with operators representing Nigeria's telecommunications and broadcast industries.

"We've found out that telecoms and broadcast companies most times locate their infrastructure near residential areas. This has resulted in the concentration of mast stations in some localities and their proximity to residential buildings often raise concerns from the public on human and environmental safety," said Anukam.

"The specific complaints include noise and vibrations from the power generation sets, oil pollution, indiscriminate disposal of waste, fear of mast-fall and health effects of electro management frequency (EMF) radiation."

He urged all stakeholders to work together to reach a common front towards ensuring environmental control and sustainable development in the sector.

"The NCC said the setback should be five metres, but NESREA came and said the setback should be 10 metres. We have had series of meetings with the NCC for a compromise for facilities existing before the NESREA regulation. For new facilities we will go by 10 metres, but whereby the 10 metre is not very easy to come by, we compromise to see the possibilities of coming up to 7.5metres and this is being done. Common agreement has been signed," he said.

According to him, the agency had not enforced the directive only because they were pursuing a common understanding towards voluntary compliance.

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