Commercial rates for houses hosting mobile phone towers

HARARE - Residential properties that house mobile phone towers will be charged commercial rates starting the end of this month.

Harare City Council spokesperson Michael Chideme told the Daily News that the owners of the homes were using their properties as commercial enterprises.

Chideme’s remarks come after council enacted electronic communications by-law which require that all telecommunications companies including those laying underground fibre optic cables pay monthly rentals to the city.

“The telecommunications companies have not been paying anything to council as was agreed upon so the city resolved instead to charge the home owners who are been paid on behalf of HCC. The homes will be charged rates that are equivalent to businesses,” Chideme said.

Mobile phone companies pay landlords whose houses host the towers a fee as recompense for potential harmful exposure to emissions from base stations.

According to some sections of the by-law, companies installing electronic communication facilities and trenching underground fibre optic cables have to obtain a permit from council first before conducting their activities.

“In terms of section 5, the company applying for the permit would pay an application fee to council and must have complied with the requirements of Potraz,” read part of the by-law.

Section 8 of the proposed new law entails that council’s permit would not exceed the period of the electronic telecommunication operator’s licence as required by the statutory regulations.

“In terms of section 9, the permit holder would maintain the area where its services were installed and would indemnify council against any claims that may arise out of the location of the electronic communications facilities.

“Furthermore, the permit holder would make good any City of Harare’s infrastructure damaged as a result of the installation or location of their electronic communications facilities and would adopt environmentally and health friendly approaches in the development of their electronic communications facilities to avoid emission of harmful substance,” read part of the by-law.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are no adverse health risks of living close to base stations, as the radio frequency exposure is too low to cause any effects.

“Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects,” WHO said.

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