Clement Ovokeroye Paul

THE HEALTH IMPLICATIONS OF THE PROLIFERATION OF TELCOS MASTS IN BAYELSA STATE; THE NEED FOR TELCOS TO WAKE UP TO HER CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES, TO MITIGATE THE IMPACTS ON THE PEOPLE.

Clement Ovokeroye Paul

There is proliferation and indiscriminate erection of Telecommunications masts in every nooks and crannies of cities since the advent of GSM (Global System Mobile). As helpful these telecommunications infrastructures are, they have also raised some environmental concerns, particularly in the area of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

Though the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) have nixed to accept that radiation from phones and communication infrastructures are harmful to health, the National Environmental Standard, Regulatory and Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and health practitioners have cautioned against unregulated sitting of Telcos masts in residential areas and warned against undue human exposure to them. In some developed countries mast are not only far from each other, they are buried under ground to reduce the effects of electromagnetic waves on the people.

By standard, according to Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC all masts are expected to be erected 24 meters high and 10 meters away from residential area. The idea is to prevent heat, smoke and noise pollution from power plant. However, the issue of concern goes beyond heat, smoke and noise pollution. It’s rather that of radiations from Telcom masts and the attendant health implications, given the proximity of these infrastructures to residential homes and the waves they have built in the troposphere over the years.

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Abdel-Rassoul et al (2007) posited that telecommunication mast waves cause short term memory, sleep disorder, increase in leukemia and speed of cancerous growth amongst others. They stressed further that the noise, vibration and fumes generated from the standby power generators cause pollution to the environment, partial deafening headache, sleeplessness and risk of brain tumor. Research studies have shown a correlation between the erection of Telcos masts prevalent health challenges of people living in close proximity to them.

In the United Kingdom, a mobile phone company was asked to remove its telecom mast from a block of flats after seven clusters of cancer and other illnesses were discovered. Perhaps this is why NESREA have severally cautioned that erecting telecommunication mast around homes should be discontinued as it poses great threat to human health. From all indications, the facilities are highly cancerogenous, and might be responsible for genital mutilation, miscarriage and infertility in men.

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This is why Telcos must wake up to her corporate social responsibility to mitigate the health, social and environmental implications on the people. While MTN, GLOBACOM, ETISALAT, and AIRTEL etc have on several occasions sponsored community base and other kind of programs in other parts of Nigeria, here in Bayelsa State they have remained dilatory in giving helping hands of those their operations affect in the state. Apart from partnering with other bodies, individuals and government to promote and give succours to deserving students, youngsters and indigents in their host communities, they must partner with hospitals and other health groups to routinely administer medications to those domicile where their facilities are stationed in the state.

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) must have ascertained (suppose any has been conducted in Bayelsa State) the health status of the inhabitants of domicile in close proximity to network masts, and so a post EIA studies would ascertained the current health status of the people years after a mast had been erected. It’s the responsibility of the network providers to ascertain the health status of people living close to their families and ensure the are protected from the adverse effects. The Coys can partner with government health agencies to address the health challenges of the people.

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There are no 100% qualified job seekers anywhere in the world. This is why must times companies hire workers and then send them for extra moral training. Hence the argument that majority of Bayelsans are not qualified for engagement in most companies, particularly the telecommunications in Bayelsa State is not correct. There are qualified contractors in the state to handle installations of Masts and other electronic appliances in the state. Presently, Bayelsa have huge number of graduates in the state. Only, recently, over 23,000 Bayelsans applied for 1,000 job placements opened in the state civil service commission. Just so, 46,982 youths registered for SEEFOR job, meant for 2,500 beneficiaries in Bayelsa state. Let the Telcos wake up to her corporate social responsibility to address unemployment which is a major cause of juvenile delinquency and youth restiveness in the state.

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