Pull down this mast--EPA, Tuesday, March 25, 2010 (pg 29)

THE Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has directed Crownville Enterprise Ghana Limited, a company mounting a telecom mast near the Bethany Preparatory School at Asylum Down in Accra, to dismantle the structure with immediate effect or face prosecution.
The letter communicating the directive, which was signed by the Deputy Director, Mr Kwabena Badu-Yeboah, and dated March 12, 2010, said the mast was not covered by an environmental permit, contrary to the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Regulations 1999, LI 1652.
The EPA acted following complaints by residents in the area that the mast was too close to their homes.
The letter said investigations carried out by the EPA at the site and the documentation available to it indicated that even though the company applied for an environmental permit, the process had not been completed.
It, therefore, requested the company “to cease further construction of the mast and dismantle it with immediate effect” until it obtained an environmental permit for the project.
The residents are happy with the directive from the EPA, and expressed hope that the Agency would follow up to ensure that the directive was adhered to.
They contended that the location of the tower posed a threat to their lives, property and health, citing that last year, a mast collapsed, killing one person and injuring another at Ashale Botwe.
Seventy-six-year-old Madam Fanny Nelson said the mast was located directly behind her rooms where she lived with her 80-year-old bed-ridden husband and a sick nephew she was nursing,
She told the Daily Graphic that she lived everyday in a heightened fear of the tower collapsing.
According to Madam Nelson, when construction of the mast started, the owner of the property on which the mast was sited deceived the residents into believing that the trench dug initially was for a manhole.
She added that after a while, when they realised that it was a mast, all attempts to put a stop to the construction proved futile, so they filed a complaint with the EPA in January this year.
However, Madam Nelson emphasised that since the complaint was lodged, construction workers reported at dawn or in the middle of the night to continue the project.
Another resident, Ms Sylvia Tetteh, observed that the contractor and the telecom operator in question did not seek the consent of the residents before starting the project.
She intimated that “the person who allowed siting of the mast here did not site it close to his place of abode, but rather decided to disturb others”.
“We are also concerned about our health. People cannot just come and impose a structure which is said to have health implications on us. We would not allow it,” she stressed.
Another aggrieved resident, Mr Lovelace Osei, narrated the countless effort made to make the person who gave authorisation for the siting of the tower to see reasoning.
It would be recalled that the Ministry of Environment Science and Technology (MEST) recently placed a temporary ban on the mounting of telecom towers.
A Daily Graphic investigation, however, revealed that contrary to the directive, the telecom mast had continued to spring up from the scratch at different locations in Accra.
In an interview, Mr Kwabena Badu-Yeboah, the Deputy Director, who is also in charge of the Accra office, said the EPA’s capacity so far as the monitoring of the telecom masts was severely hampered by human resources and logistics.
“We are severely challenged by finances and the human resources needed to monitor the situation. Without this, our hands are tied,” he said.

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