The High Court in Tema has restrained Zain Ghana Limited, a mobile telecommunications company, from constructing a phone mast at a house at Adjiringano, a suburb of Accra.
The order, which took effect from Friday, October 17, 2008 is valid for 10 days.
The court gave the order following an application for an order of interim injunction to restrain the company from constructing the phone mast at No.14 Manor Valley Road which was filed on behalf of some residents of Adjiringano by Mr Kojo Graham, the Executive Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Civil Liberties (CHUCIL), an NGO.
According to the residents, checks from regulatory bodies had proved that the company was putting up the mast without the requisite approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA), the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), among other regulatory bodies.
They further argued that phone masts and towers were internationally known and reported, through scientific research and case studies, to be sources of harmful radioactive and electromagnetic emissions against individuals and communities living near and within the environs of erected phone masts and towers.
In the substantive suit, the plaintiffs, Alex Dodoo, Leslie Dodoo, Caroline Ama Ennin, John Nii Sackey Odametey, Ellis K. Ashiagbor and George Ofori, are seeking a declaration that the erection and construction of a phone mast and tower by Zain is unlawful and illegal.
They are also praying the court to permanently restrain the company and its agents from constructing a phone mast at the said area, as well as an order restraining it from constructing a mast within the Tema metropolitan area without the requisite regulatory approvals and clearance.
They are further praying the court to award general damages and costs in their favour.
An affidavit accompanying the writ stated that some time during the first week of October 2008, the plaintiffs spotted workmen excavating a deep and wide foundation trench within the precincts of House No. 14 Manor Valley Road, Adjiringano in the Greater Accra Region.
According to the affidavit, a few days after the excavation, residents observed the construction and erection of a huge phone mast and tower where the excavation had taken place.
It said the plaintiffs subsequently met an officer of the company on the premises, who confirmed that the defendant company was erecting the phone mast and tower and further claimed that the company had already received and paid for all the necessary permits and approvals.
However, according to the affidavit, on October 13, 2008 the plaintiffs followed up their search at the Tema offices of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and were informed that the defendant company had not been given a permit to construct the mast.
The affidavit stated that although one WO I Agbagba had given the land to the defendant company to construct the mast, the law did not permit such agreements, especially when the land was not being used for its original purpose.
It consequently described the transaction between WO I Agbagba and the defendant company as “void and bereft of legal effect”.
The plaintiffs stated that the defendant company was erecting the phone mast tower at a furiously fast pace, in complete disregard of the objections of the plaintiffs.
They further argued that the unlawful erection of phone masts and towers by mobile telephone operators in residential and educational environs had become such a menace and blamed such practices on the lack of enforcement on the part of the authorities.
Story by Mabel Åku Baneseh