Home NewsNational Parliament Summons MTN for Refusing to Compensate ‘Poisoned Man’

Parliament Summons MTN for Refusing to Compensate ‘Poisoned Man’

by Daniel Sabiiti
6:00 pm

Francois Byabarumwanzi (left)- Chairman Human Rights Commission and Fight Against Genocide

Parliament has summoned MTN Rwanda to explain why up to now it has not compensated a man that dragged the telecom company to court over poisoning last year.

Joseph Ndabakenga, a resident of Gatoki cell, Gisagara district sued MTN over noise and ‘electromagnetic poisoning’ caused by generators that power a towering mast near his home.

Ndabakenga informed court that he had been diagnosed with high levels ‘Electro-Magnetic Radiation poisoning’.

The court battle dragged on from Huye court of first instance to Nyanza appeal court to the Supreme Court. But later two parties allegedly agreed to settle the case outside court on two grounds- to remove the transmitters and compensate the complainant with Rwf3.5million.

In an earlier interview Teta Mpyisi, the MTN  Senior Manager, Brand and Sponsorship told KigaliToday that the court ruling to halt the noise pollution at Ndabakenga’s place was implemented and the victim was compensated after signing papers of consent on the matter.

“We have since removed the generator replacing it with a battery and compensated him for the damages of which he signed papers to confirm this was done,” Mpyisi said in December 2016.

The Parliamentary Human Rights commission today presented a report to the Lower House of Parliament indicating that MTN removed the generators but didn’t pay the plaintiff even after the two parties agreed on settling the case out of court.

“The complainant’s biggest problem now is not the generator noise but the money that they agreed with MTN. We recommended that the issues of payment should solved in court because there was a breach of agreement,” Commission chairman, Francios Byabarumwanzi said.

Lawmakers asked why MTN didn’t abide by the agreement, and why the commission recommend that the affected citizen goes to back to court to waste more time, before MTN gives its stand on the allegations.

“This case should be solved by first summoning MTN here to explain why. This issue of antennas is all over the country and RURA should present outcomes of their research in parliament, not on radio….we should address this issue beyond Ndabakenga” JMV Gatabazi said.

The commission explained that the Rwf3.5m settlement-agreement was done without informing court and both parties agreed and informed parliament on how they reached the agreement.

Legally this means that since MTN has not paid Ndabakenga, it is no longer an issue of parliament but for the courts.

Out of 90 MPs who voted on the report, only 21 passed it, 20 abstained and 7 nullified – thus not passing it.

Ten of the lawmakers asked to comment on the report, especially on issue of MTN- of which some MPs demanded why MTN didn’t abide.

“We don’t know any response from MTN and the commission is giving contrary suggestions to how the issue was supposed to be resolved” Euthalie Nyirabega said.

Lawmaker, Juvenal Nkusi reminded the House that it is not a conference area. “We are here to seek solutions to problems and we cannot just wave off reports because they are presented to us”.

After failure to agree on the outcomes of the Commission report, the Speaker of Parliament bounced the report back to the commission to revise and revisit the concerns of the House.

Last year, Parliament summoned Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the Minister of Youth and ICT, in 2015, to give an expert and informed point of view of the increasing concerns and worries about possibilities of citizens suffering from radiation poisoning.

The minister stated in Parliament that there was no need to worry since the Rwanda Utility and Regulation Agency (RURA) tests all telecommunication equipment after being imported to assess standards.