Thousands of South Africans have petitioned the government for setting up a new policy that allows the installation of 5G towers on private lands. Many have claimed that letting mobile network operators build cellphone infrastructure on their lands will devalue the property.
The government’s policy states that network operators “have the right to enter upon and use public and private lands”. It cited the need for high speed and a quality network to ensure rural communities do not lag. Another part of the draft read, “This policy proposes that network operators can erect infrastructure on private land and property. Therefore, owners cannot charge an access fee and are liable for any damage to the infrastructure.” It implies that landlords can only charge access fees if the network operator makes intrusive changes to their lands, but will be liable for any damage to communication infrastructure.
In response, citizens submitted petitions on the website, “Dear South Africa”, which is used by citizens to challenge policies before they are passed into law. Other concerns arose about the effect of radiation and the expropriation of citizen-owned property without due compensation. Some worry that the policy will infringe the rights of citizens to own land.
South Africans have so far submitted over 40,000 petitions via the “Dear South Africa” website from across nine provinces. The draft document is still open to citizens who are concerned over their right to privacy, property, and access to a healthy and safe environment.
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