Of pylons, antennae, and billboards in Ghana

Since political independence, various governments have embarked on electrification of the country.  While hydroelectric dams such as the ones at Akosombo and Bui generate 14.5 kilovolts (kv), thermal plants elsewhere generate 13.5 kilovolts. Both go through step up transformers to produce 161 kilovolts that are transmitted on pylons and distributed throughout the country. The 161 kv goes through various substations and stepped down to either 55kv, 34.5 (33kv) and 11kv for commercial and domestic distributions at 415 volts, 3-phase, 4-wire. Single phase voltage of 240 v (220v) is achieved out of the 415v, 3-phase 4-wire. The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) buys 33 and 11kv from power producers and supplies needed power to the southern part of Ghana, NEDCO (a subsidiary of VRA) handles power distribution to the northern part of Ghana.

To stem vegetational growth and potential interferences under pylons Chromolaena Odorata (“Acheampong” weed) known to attack and suppress other weeds, shrubs, and plants, was employed and planted under the pylons. Further, because of extreme high electric energy and its inherent high magnetic field generated and carried by pylons, elaborate Grid Code manual was developed to ensure security and safety in the immediate environs of the high energy transmission for both humans and infrastructure and to ensure uninterrupted power supply. For example, private and/or commercial activities must be at least fifteen (15) meters from a pylon. However, either through ignorance or stubbornness people have been known to flout the guidelines and set up businesses in the spaces under the pylons.  The average radio transmission antenna mast covers an area of about 60 km to transmit and receive radio waves depending on land curvature.

Like pylons, antenna mast structures create powerful electromagnetic fields around their environs. Here again, homes and business structures are commonly too close to (radio) antenna structures. 

Billboards do not create nor produce electromagnetic fields, however, their haphazard and uncoordinated erections are not only a nuisance but also a health hazard. In many cases billboards are placed at dangerous points. They blindside drivers and put upcoming vehicles and those entering intersections in danger. In other cases, too they are installed illegally while authorities look away.

As the potential of long-term exposure to electrical radiation and electromagnetic fields are being debated between scientists in money-making conglomerates and academia, technological advancements such as 5G (which operates between frequencies of 6ghz to 24ghz and more) are being developed and implemented. We may not hold sway in the scientists’ tussle of wave transmission on health, but we can mitigate on worrisome hazards such as electric arching and fire caused and/or created by existential human activities. 

Some of these massive edifices are positioned too close to activities. Conversely, activities find their ways near or under right of way structures.

Erectors of communication and electrical structures in urban and densely-populated areas do not engage the impacted community and therefore provide no awareness and education on inherent dangers -or otherwise – that a structure may pose.

The earth responds to environmental patterns and climate changes due to greenhouse effects and other factors. Massive earthquakes, hurricanes, and even tsunami, that are unknown in this part of the world could suddenly occur and uproot electrical, communication, and billboard structures, visiting and causing untold hardships on people and the country. 

Are we prepared to face up to natural disasters just in case?  We call on appropriate authorities to act now for it is said that “A stitch in time saves nine.”

Posted by on Aug 30 2020. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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