Why Telecos should worry about noise pollution

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Telecom companies in Rwanda could stand a chance of being penalized after residents raising simultaneous complaints over noise pollution and effects of radioactivity in the bodies.

Residents of Gatoki cell, Save Sector in Gisagara district are now spending sleepless nights over noise pollution for generators that run antennas owned by Tigo and MTN Rwanda telecommunication companies.

“We no longer sleep whenever power goes and these generators start running. I only sleep when my brain is tired of sitting throughout the night as a result of noise” Pierre Rushigajiki

The affected residents, who live in the vicinities of the antennas, say that the noise is too much that they cannot even afford to alert other community members in case of an attack.

Law on How far should settlements be away from telecommunication antennas.

About ten families are affected and the residents want the government to shift them to another area

Some of the residents say that they have requested Tigo authorities about the matter but nothing has been done.

Sunny Ntayombya told Kigali Today that the affected residents have not been informed them about this issue except hearing it from the media.

He also said that Tigo will visit the site to find a lasting solution to the issue

Measurements done by Tigo technicians indicate that the generator produce noise equivalent to 62 Decibels per meter meaning that the residents receive approximately 310 decibels in five meters with the houses just in the vicinity of the generators.

Punishment for noise pollution

The Penal Code is clear on noise pollution and night disturbance.  Article 600 of the Penal Code, states that any person found guilty of making noise in a way that troubles people, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of between eight days and two months or a fine ranging from Rwf50,000 to Rwf1 million, or both.

Several restaurants, churches and hangout joints in Kigali city were disbanded, rounded up and closed as a result of noise pollution, when police mounted operations to effect compliance of this law in 2012.

In 2015 alone over 20 premises were closed down and music and sound equipment confiscated by police. Since then there have been few reported cases of noise pollution.

The problem of noise pollution in the area is also extended to the residents living close to MTN Rwanda owned antennas.

Joseph Ndabakenga, lives one meter away from the MTN antenna tower and is the only person who that close and the only one complaining in the whole Gatoki cell in Save community.

He claims that doctors have diagnosed him with high levels ‘Electro-Magnetic Radiation’ and is said to be thinking of suing the company for ‘electromagnetic poisoning’

Doctors asked if I own a phone, I said “Yes” and inquired if I own a computer I said “Never” but told them that I stay near telecom antenna. They said that this could be the cause of the high levels of radiation.

He has since sued MTN in courts of law for noise pollution and was compensated with Rwf3.5million but says that the company hasn’t done anything to resolve the matter at hand.

Teta Mpyisi, the MTN  Senior Manager, Brand and Sponsorship told Kigali Today that the court ruling to halt the noise pollution at Ndabakenga’s place has been implemented and the victim signed papers of consent on the matter in 2013.

“He (Ndabakenga) sued us and won the case. We have since removed the generator replacing it with a battery and compensated him for the damages of which he signed papers to confirm this was done” Mpyisi said.

Mpyisi’s claims are however contested by Ndabakenga who says that MTN didn’t abide by the court agreement between the two parties.

“They (MTN) had two generators. They removed one of them replacing it with a battery, but in six months both generators were up and running as before” Ndabakenga said.

Local leaders in Gisagara are not aware of the current situation but Jerome Gisagara, the District Mayor says that they will follow up the case as soon as possible.

Parliament summoned Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the Minister of Youth and ICT, in 2015, to give an expert and informed point of view of the increasing concerns and worries about possibilities of citizens suffering from either radiation poisoning.

The minister stated in Parliament that there was no need to worry since the Rwanda Utility and Regulation Agency (RURA) tests all telecommunication equipment after being imported to assess standards.


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