- Landlord Dies During Mast Station Construction
- Landlady, Others Pack Out of Houses Over Persistent Sickness
By Ismaeel Uthman
There is a growing health hazard that has enveloped residents of Obalende and environs of Ipetu-Ijesa in Oriade Local Government Area of the State of Osun.
A telecommunications mast, allegedly erected by the HIS Towers in the area, has been having a devastating effect on the health of occupants of houses and shops around the area.
Investigations by OSUN DEFENDER have revealed that the radiation of the mast, the noise pollution, heat and fumes of the powering generator on site have caused severe damages to the health system of the people.
The mast, which is said to be powering Mobile Telecommunications Network (MTN) service has also evicted house owners and tenants who could no longer cope with the unhealthy environment and the danger posed to their health by it.
According to findings, the base station of the mast is about 5ft (1.5metres), 6ft (1.8metres) and 8ft (2.4metres) from three different nearby houses, which is against the rules and regulations of the Nigerian Communications Commission Act.
The general rule of the NCC is that telecommunications towers above 25 metres in height would not be permitted within residential areas.
However, the Commission may permit towers above 25 metres height and in such a case, the towers must be placed at a minimum of five metres distance to the nearest demise property, excluding the fence.
Landlord Dies During Mast Station Construction
During the construction of the tower in 2012, a landlord, Pa Daramola, whose house is located beside the mast station was the first casualty recorded, as he reportedly died after falling on the granites offloaded in front of his house at night.
According to Ms Funke Daramola, the daughter of the late landlord, her father woke up in the night to urinate in front of the house and his feet were caught in the heap of granites, making him to fall down and beaten by the rain before he regained the strength to stand up and walk back inside.
She said her father did not know the granite was offloaded in front of his house, as it was done late in the night by the people working at the mast station.
Daramola stated that she later packed out of the house with her children when they could no longer bear the radiation of the mast, smoke and noise of the generator powering it.
She said: “My father, my four children and I were living here before they brought the mast. When they wanted to site it here, we cried out and kicked against it; but because we are not connected and well to do, there was no one to help.
“My father died after falling on the granites offloaded in front of our house by the people working at the mast station. After the death of my father, I was always in distress and experiencing some sharp pains in my chest and constant headache. When I went to the hospital, they told me to pack out of the house. I was told the mast was responsible for my sickness. I moved out and went to rent an apartment and ever since then, I have been okay.
“It is painful and sad for those of us who have houses in the locality, returning to the position of tenants because there was no one to come to our aid. We had to leave our houses for the mast. Government should help us to address this issue.”
Landlady, Other Residents Pack Out of Houses Over Persistent Sickness
Speaking with OSUN DEFENDER on Monday, a widow, Mrs. Tomilola Oluwadare said she had developed respiratory problems as a result of the mast in front of her house.
Oluwadare said she moved out of her house with her children to rent an apartment, after her doctor told her that the radiation of the mast and smoke of its generator were responsible for her constant sickness.
Oluwadare said: “I had to move out of our house here because I was suddenly hit by an ailment such that I had to be taken to the hospital three times a month. The doctor, after sometime, told me that what was causing my sickness was the mast and that I had to leave if I cherished my well-being. He said I would not live longer if I stayed in that house for long. I felt it was better to stay safe. That was why I left the place.
“When I slept in the night, my legs and body would be shaking. If I cooked with an iron pot, I would be hearing all sorts of sound like that of a power line. If you stayed beside the window, the window would make a forceful noise and pull me off. I experienced no iota of healthy living at all. Once I woke up in the midnight like this, I would be unable to sleep again once I began to hear that sound. It was displeasing throughout my stay in the area.
“Whenever I fell sick, it affected my chest. There would be difficulty in breathing and so on. When I was told that the mast was the reason behind my ill-health and that I had to leave so as not cause my untimely death; that is why I left the place. Most people in the area complain of the same thing. One of our co-inhabitants in the community reported that his son’s sickness was caused by the radiation from the mast.
“I had been living in the area since 1995. The people that came to the site to erect the mast seven years ago neither notified nor reached out to us. I did not even know the facility portended health hazards until I became always sick. According to what I gathered from the people, it Is the practice of the network service providers to give incentives to those who live close to the masts to enable them build other houses in other locations. But we were not given anything here.”
Both Daramola and Oluwadare’s houses were under lock when OSUN DEFENDER visited the place on Monday.
Another resident of Obalende, who does not want his name to be mentioned, confided in the medium that many residents of the area had left for other places as a result of the danger posed to their health by the mast.
He said: “People are packing out of every building in this area because of the health implication of the mast. I am also moving out soon; I am just taking my time to complete my own house. This mast is causing a lot of damages to us.
“The mast is sited in the midst of residential buildings and it is having devastating effects on our health. We are regular visitors to hospitals because if our children fall sick this week, it will be the turn of our wives next week, and the husbands the week after.
“The doctors are saying the same thing: that we should move out of this area because the air we breathe in and environment have been polluted because of the mast.”
According to experts, people living very close to where telecommunications masts are erected are vulnerable to health disorders like cancer, lung diseases, sleep disturbances and even physical disabilities.
Apart from the loud noise, OSUN DEFENDER observed that the fumes from the generator powering the mast were thick, huge and always spread to every house around the area.
Also, the smoke and diesel spill from the generator have stained the ground of the area where the mast occupied and the spillage is fast spreading out to a wide expanse around the place.
The noise level of the generator is very high, compared to what should be obtainable in a residential area as stipulated by NCC.
Our Lives At Risk – Residents
A tenant in one of the houses that surround the mast, Mr Dare Omotosho said the residents of Oluwadare and Daramola environs of Obalende area of the mast were ‘dangerously reaching a health hazard tipping point.’
Omotosho, who is the Leader of the Concerned Obalende / Ifofin Youth, said the lives of the people living around the mast station were at risk, threatening that youths’ protests against the continuous health hazard posed by the mast was imminent.
He said: “The people living close to the said MTN / IHS masts are complaining of fatigue, headache and sleep disruption. There are also complaints about noise, vibrations and fumes from 24hrs standby power generators working at the telecom mast base stations and the likelihood of causing damage to human respiratory system and property. Unfortunately, the MTN / IHS staff response on the above subject was inhumane.”
According to the owner of a hotel, which is few metres away to the mast, Mr. Femi Alake, he queried the approval of the mast in such a densely populated area without consideration to the health of the people.
Alake stated that it was obvious that the mast was erected in total disregard to the rules and regulations of the NCC, calling on the Federal and state governments to look into the matter before it claims more lives of residents.
He hinted that residents of the area have reported the matter to the State House of Assembly for assistance.
Assembly Wades In, May Sanction Telecommunication Company
When contacted, the Chairman, House Committee on Environment and Sanitation, Hon Benjamin Ogundipe confirmed that the assembly had been notified, saying that members of his committee have also visited the location of the mast
Ogundipe said: “We were at Ipetu-Ijesha to check the place. As at then, we were not even sure if it was owned by MTN We saw the emission from the exhaust pipe of the generator powering the mast.
“You may not see it as something serious when you get closer to it in the first instance, but after about three minutes, some of us who did not cover our nostrils started experiencing peppery substance which was the fumes coming out from the generator in our noses.
“We inhaled the fumes of the generator and that was when we knew the complaints of the people were real. The mast is in the midst of buildings and at very close range of about three metres away from the base of the tower. Definitely, there would be serious health hazard on the people living in the area.
“The first identified issue is the vibration, noise and fumes from the generator. If you look at the ground, it has turned to black because of the fume coming out from the generator. Imagine that alone coming into human’s body, you can imagine the danger it poses to the health of the people.
“Where the mast is erected is purely a residential area. We learnt that the buildings were there before the mast was erected. We are still on the matter but two things are likely to happen: the service provider should pay all the houses around the mast for them to go and build new houses in another area or remove the mast.”
Efforts to get the reaction of the HIS Towers Nigeria proved abortive as calls put to the contact phone number on its website were not answered. There was no reply to the message sent to its contact email either.