Illegal masts probe urged in Bahrain
Manama, June 30, 2013
Councillors in Bahrain are demanding an investigation after it emerged 160 illegal phone masts have sprung up across the Central Governorate.
The situation has been described as "out of control" and councillors say there is no clear law that enables the municipality to take action against violators, according to a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
"We are not calling for the removal of masts as that would cause problems with the networks in the area," said Central Municipal Council services and public utilities committee chairman Ahmed Al Ansari.
"What we want is to resolve these masts situation and organise it instead of the chaos we are witnessing. During the GCC Cup week, more masts were erected and it should not have happened."
Councillor Majdi Al Nasheet said requests for phone masts should be studied by the council and the municipality before they are approved.
Speaking during the council's bi-weekly meeting held at the Central Municipality headquarters in Isa Town, municipality director-general Dr Mohammed Hassan admitted violators were going unpunished.
"The problem why we are unable to clearly issue permits is because there are no laws yet approved on enforcing fees to pay for such masts," he said.
"This is hindering our efforts to punish violators and take them to courts. There is no mechanism on ways to issue permits or to prosecute violators."
Council chairman Abdulrazzaq Al Hattab said councillors should arrange a meeting to discuss the possibility of outlining regulations to organise the sector.
"This way we can bring in our thoughts and views on this and attempt for a mechanism to organise the erection of masts," he said.
Residents have for years claimed phone masts are unsafe, dangerous and an "eyesore".
Councillors at one point wanted to dismantle them after claims surfaced that companies had paid people BD1,000 ($2,610) to erect antennas in residential areas.
A major study was ordered by HRH Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa into telephone masts to ensure they posed no threat to health, environmental and legal rules and regulations last April.
The GDN previously reported plans were underway to oblige the country's three telecommunications companies to put up new masts, which resemble trees and are made from environmentally friendly materials.
It was spearheaded by the Central Municipal Council following a visit to Al Areen and Durrat Al Bahrain, which have already started putting up the masts.
Muharraq Municipal council earlier imposed a blanket ban on new masts in September 2007 and later announced plans to dismantle all masts put up without their permission in late 2009.
However, they backed down after Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) agreed to come up with new procedures for erecting masts and aerials. – TradeArabia News Service