Massive death averted as newly built FM radio mast in Uyo collapses twice in 2 months
By our Correspondent
Residents living close to a newly built FM radio station located at Shelter Afrique Estate, Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, this morning, escaped death by the whiskers as the station’s reerected transmission mast collapsed again. The mast, which was reconstructed in defiance to a court action fell following a mild downpour.
Our paper gathered that the new station is built and owned by Mr. Friday Ben, a.k.a. Dollie Popman, who is also the Special Assistant on Protocol to the state governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel.
Inhabitants of the adjourning area who spoke to our correspondent said the owner of the fallen Mixx Radio 88.7FM transmission mast, Friday Ben, used his position as governor’s aide to influence the sitting of the station against environmental regulations which prohibit building of such high-rising mast in a densely populated residential estate.
It was learnt that following an earlier partial collapse of the same mast on the 7th January, 2021, it was allegedly shabbily reerected, while the owner was constantly evading service of court summons instituted by the affected residents, led by Mr. Larry Ettah, the immediate past Group Managing Director of UAC of Nigeria Plc.
According to earlier media reports, the affected residents had in their petition, while demanding relocation of the station, raised several regulatory and oversight issues as to why such a structure was erected in a residential estate in the first instance.
“The petition was filed by the law firm of Victor Iyanam & Co and addressed to the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Managing Director, Akwa Ibom Property and Investment Company Limited and Mr. Friday Ben, a.k.a. Dollie Popman, the owner of the station and also the Special Assistant, Protocol to the Governor.
“The petitioners are miffed that the 110 metre mast located at House KO3 suffered a partial collapse of a 15 metre section on January 7, 2021 during a mild shower and constituted a real and present danger to all homes within a metre radius of its current location.
“They are demanding explanations as to the rationale of granting a radio station a permit within a residential estate let alone granting a permit to erect a mast of that magnitude, which now constitutes a serious danger to residents.
“They are also querying if the proprietor of the station abused his power to ensure that regulators overlooked issues of environmental impact and safety in erecting the mast.
“The petitioners also wonder what sort of disaster could have ensued if the mast was hit by strong winds, when a mild storm as experienced on January 7 had brought it down.
“Also in issue, is that no government agency has shown any interest in the matter and that the said radio station is now in the process of rebuilding the mast despite the danger it posed to residents.
“The petitioners therefore demand that the state government restrain the station from engaging in further rehabilitation activities and dismantle and relocate the structure altogether. Failure to do this, the petitioners said they would have no other option than to resort to legal action”
Meanwhile, the suit, according to court papers at our disposal, which was filed at the Uyo High Court on the 16th of February, 2021, comes up on the 25th of this month.
The state government, as at the time of this report has yet to comment on the matter.