Bahrain to install ‘green’ phone masts
Manama, April 5, 2012
Bahrain could soon instal 'environmentally friendly' phone masts across the country after a five-year battle to remove the existing ones.
It follows years of protests and controversy in which residents claimed the masts were unsafe, dangerous and an 'eyesore'.
Councillors had wanted to dismantle the masts at one point after claims surfaced that companies had paid people BD1,000 ($2,652) to erect the antennas in residential areas.
However, plans are now underway to oblige the country's three telecommunication companies to put up new masts, which resemble trees and are made from environmentally friendly materials.
The scheme is spearheaded by the Central Municipal Council following a visit to Al Areen and Durrat Al Bahrain, which have already started putting the masts up.
'The new masts, already installed successfully in Al Areen and Durrat Al Bahrain, are made of environmentally friendly materials and resemble trees,' said council technical committee chairman Ghazi Al Hamer yesterday after councillors passed the proposal.
'Yes, they cost more, but they are not that much expensive than the existing metal-structured ugly masts, set up across Bahrain. Those masts will no longer be allowed in residential areas and at homes.'
Al Hamer said companies would not be allowed to instal masts in residential areas, but instead would be allocated municipal lands and must pay a lease fees.
The council will co-ordinate with the Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) to have masts replace selected lampposts, meaning they would be put up on main roads instead of residential areas.
Companies could also instal the masts parallel to minarets at selected mosques, with the fees collected by the Sunni and Jaffari Waqf (Endowment) Directorates.
Rooftops of ministries and government buildings would also play host to these masts.
'Masts will only be allowed in designated empty municipal plots with minimal fees,' said Al Hamer. 'They will be replacements to lampposts, parallel to minarets in selected mosques, and on top of ministries and government organisation buildings.'
The new masts are made from environmentally friendly material, which is a step forward for the country in its mission to go green.
'These masts are a step ahead from the conventional masts being step up in Bahrain at the moment,' said council chairman Abdulrazzak Al Hattab.
'They are part of a combination of urbanisation, health and environment, and beautification. They will ensure Bahrain develops and people get their telecommunication services without disruption while at the same time ensuring that surroundings are acceptable.'
The council will work with Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry and Bahrain's four other municipal councils to carry out the project across the country, but it would first be installed in Manama.
'We take the initiative now and others will hopefully follow and from unofficial negotiations the ministry and other councils are eager to do the same,' said Al Hattab.
Muharraq Municipal Council imposed a blanket ban on new masts in September 2007 and then announced plans to dismantle all masts put up without their permission in late 2009.
However, they backed down after Telecommunications Regulatory Authority agreed to come up with new procedures for erecting masts and aerials. – TradeArabia News Service