Representatives of 18 families living in Chbar Ampov I commune in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district met yesterday with district officials to protest the construction of a Metfone cell tower on the roof of their neighbor’s house, district officials said yesterday.
The residents began protesting about the antenna after it was quietly erected over the Khmer New Year holiday by Metfone, said commune chief Peou Huot.
According to Mr Huot, the residents noticed the tower after the holiday and became concerned that it might attract lightning or endanger their health.
“If there is not legal permission for the tower, then we will take action on the [residents’] request for its removal,” Mr Huot said.
Deputy District Governor Hieng Chanleang said he will arrange a meeting between the concerned residents and the mobile telephone company.
“I will arrange a meeting next week with a representative from the company, who will discuss what problems the antenna could cause,” Mr Chanleang said, adding that the meeting will also determine the legality of the tower.
Buth Chandy, one of the protesting residents, said that the 18 families involved had filed an official complaint with district authorities against San Pech, whose five-meter-tall home now serves as the base of the 15-meter telephone antenna.
Mr Pech said yesterday that he had signed a contract with Metfone for the construction of the antenna.
“I am the owner of my house, so I have the right to rent it to the company,” said Mr Pech, adding that not only had a company representative assured him the tower would not create a health or lightning hazard, but that cell towers are quite common in the area and completely legal.
Seng Ly, deputy chief of Metfone’s infrastructure department, repeated that claim, saying that the tower has a lightning protection system at the end of its antenna and that such structures “do not damage people’s health.”