Open letter to Safaricom: Comms mast blots Kili view

Tue, 2008-06-03 13:50 by hcroze
Safaricom mast in front of Mawenzi: seen from Osero House Ontawua Hill from Kimana-Amboseli road

Mr. Michael Joseph
CEO, Safaricom Ltd.
Nairobi

Dear Michael,

I just came back from Amboseli a week or so ago; hadn't been for a couple of months.

Sad to report that the perennial vista of the sweep of Kilimanjaro rising from the plain has an appalling blemish: the new Safaricom mast on Ontawua hill.

I'm not sure what shocks me most. The lack of taste and sensitivity that would condone placing a thing smack in the middle of one of the finest views in the world? Or the apparent flouting of the dictates of the Physical Planning Act of 1996 that requires 'development', such as the erecting of masts and hoardings, be subjected to comment and review by stakeholders. Or the discord of this siting in the light of Safaricom's otherwise stellar record of environmental concern?

Would a commercial service provider be allowed to plunk a mast in front of, say, Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone, or the Jungfrau seen from any number of locations around it, or even Table Mountain seen from the Waterfront? Of course not. Why should the the tallest mountain in Africa and the highest free standing mountain in the world be treated any differently? Because it's in Africa? Because the owners of the plot can be easily inveigled by the promise of a quick shilling?

Of course, we all want better connectivity. But not at the cost of violation of icons of our planet. One often wonders if Safaricom and other service providers pay any attention at all to codes of conduct for siting communications masts, such as the UK's Code of Best Practice on Mobile Phone Network Development?.

Paragraph 153 of the Code recommends: "For sites located within conservation areas particular attention needs to be paid to the siting and location of any apparatus. Special attention should be paid to the desirability of preserving and enhancing the special character and appearance of the conservation area." And, in paragraph 158, "In siting development in rural areas, operators should try to avoid prominent locations, especially those on or near sites popular with visitors. Visual impact can be minimised by using slim, simply shaped masts painted to blend in with the background."

Michael, this is a shame; you really should try to fix it.

Thanks for your attention.

Best regards,

Harvey