Nigeria’s communications and environment regulators clash over telecom masts

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Environmental Standard Regulatory Agency (NESREA) have are at odds over how the country’s environmental space reserved for telecommunications purposes should be put into use.

According to reports, the masts the telecom service providers use in addition to posing as health hazards radiate electromagnetic field (ETF) rays near residential areas.

NESREA, which has shut down other base stations that disregarded its requirements, demands a 10-metre radius as instructed in the 2007 Act.

NCC’s executive vice chairman Dr. Eugene Juwah said the law permits them as regulators to make decisions which become secondary laws for the telecommunication industry.

He added that experimental research has proved that the radiation produced from these masts is less harmful than that produced by the television sets.

NESREA however disputed these remarks saying the NCC’s subsidiary law cannot be equal to a subsisting act of the parliament.

According to medical experts, mobile phones, which communicate using towers through radiofrequency (RF), have high radiofrequency waves or electromagnetic fields that are capable of damaging human tissues at high rates.

The radiation heats body tissues the same way microwaves do and the increase in the number of mobile phones used have resulted to the increase in the number of transmission masts installed, in turn causing the illnesses, according to a medical report released by NESREA.

NESREA further argued that there is also a need for legislative framework to resolve the unclear areas between the regulatory agencies on issues of operations, infrastructure, and consumer rights and protection, saying that, in a situation where the results are of national interest, erroneous agencies need to be rectified.

NESREA said the current government should respond quickly to lessen the challenge posed by Urban Furniture Regulatory Unit (UFRU), a body mandated to regulate building and maintenance of telecom masts in the state.

NESREA was established as a parastatal to the Federal Ministry of Environment, Housing and Urban Development charged with the responsibility of enforcing all environmental laws, guidelines, policies, standards and regulations in Nigeria.

NCC is an independent national regulatory authority for the telecommunications industry in Nigeria responsible for creating a competitive environment among operators in the industry. It also ensures the provision of quality and efficient telecommunication services in Nigeria.

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