Kenya: Safaricom Fights Mombasa Residents Over Base Station

Safaricom has locked horns with Mombasa residents who are in court to stop the telecoms firm from building a transceiver station in Mwembe Tayari.

The telco has also gone to court seeking orders to have the prayers for a permanent injuction against erecting the facility struck out.

Safaricom argued that complaints against licences issued by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) or the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) have to follow statutory procedures to address their grievances.

Through lawyer Billy Kongere, Safaricom told Justice Charles Yano that the grant of a licence by the CA is a decision made under the Kenya Information and Communication Act.

"If anyone has a problem with that, it is a tribunal to address the concerns," said Mr Kongere.

Mr Mahmood Shariff Ali and 10 others want the mobile phone service provider barred from erecting the station or within a radius of 500 metres from the parcel of land.

Through lawyer Sharon Maiga, they opposed the application by Safaricom to have the suit struck out, saying the court has jurisdiction to hear the case.

Ms Maiga told the court that it is not mandatory for the residents to explore other forms of dispute resolution and urged the court to dismiss the application by Safaricom so the main case can be heard.

Electromagnetic radiation

According to suit papers, an environmental impact assessment was conducted that acknowledged that the residents and stakeholders were exposed to health hazards due to the levels of electromagnetic radiation emitted.

The residents claim that in line with environmental regulations, Safaricom used its agents to seek consent from the neighbours so as to be allowed to go ahead.

However, they say that after they were informed of the exercise and potential health impact, they refused to allow Safaricom and its agents to build.

The residents further argued the environmental impact assessment failed to provide an alternative mechanism as required by law.

"The consultation and public hearing did not comply with the law since it was not publicised nor announced on the radio set out," the suit papers said.

The court is expected to deliver a ruling on the application to strike out the suit on July 29.

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