• November 10, 2023

NOISE POLLUTION IS CONSUMES FREETOWN

NOISE POLLUTION IS CONSUMES FREETOWN
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By Alusine Fullah

Noise pollution in Sierra Leone particularly in Freetown is becoming unbecoming, making it an unnoticed threat. Indeed, it is very parlous to almost all works of lives especially on human health. But first, one may pause to ask what noise pollution is? And, what the Freetown City Council is doing to minimise noise pollution in the capital city, Freetown. According to EPA: “Noise pollution is usually defined as unwanted or disturbing sound that intrudes into a place where the sound is unwanted…” So now that we have gotten an iota definition of noise pollution, one may also attempt to ask how noise pollution affects us.

 

Decades over decades, several politicians (especially mayors) and other Sierra Leoneans have said so lot about the noise pollution in Sierra Leone particularly in Freetown. Meanwhile, many promised to solve the issue of noise pollution. For instance, very recently, the mayoral candidate for NDA political party has also vowed to totally an end to noise pollution in Freetown if he will the seat.

 

Sadly, anyone who lives adjacent to a neighbor or church where boisterous all night prayer sessions are the norm, more than likely knows what it is like to be denied a good night’s sleep. But, of all this pain nobody seems to care. Why? Invariably, those who talk about noise pollution are referring to high noise levels coming from industrial plants such sounds could be caused either by machinery or a generator in separation. Because of this, most industrial or manufacturing plants are situated away from the capital cities. For instance, Wellington Industrial Estate was situated at outskirts of Freetown for just such a reason. Many Sierra Leoneans (especially the illiterate) may ask are there laws that prohibit noise pollution? YES, WE HAVE LAWS THAT STRONGLY PROHIBIT NOISE POLLUTION. In nexus to the above, going back to the Public Order Act of 1965 it states:

 

It shall be unlawful for persons to assemble and remain in any street or public place or in any house, outhouse, building, shed, yard or other place, beating any drum, going, tom-tom or other such instrument, or dancing thereto, before the hour of four in the afternoon, or after the hour of nine in the evening.

 

Moreover, in nexus to the foregoing, if only the above law is followed to the letter, chances are Sierra Leone should have been free from noise pollution. But, apart from the above law, what about the Bo City Council what are they doing to clamp down this menace? With the enforcement having flunked over the last decades to ensure that status quo is respected and maintained. Especially this season, in the case of Makone, some places like the churches are just as culpable as the nightclubs of being as loud possible. You are there to worship, but that does not mean you should disturb the fine and peaceful night sleep of others. I am confident to say that even the bible does not permit such disturbance. But, you may attempt to ask, a little loud music never killed anybody, right?

 

In addition, in connection to the aforesaid assertion, aside from the obvious irritation, studies or organizations like WHO have vividly shown that noise pollution can easily raise our risk of serious health conditions including heart disease. In nexus to the above, according to WHO: “ Sudden and unexpected noise has been observed to produced marked changes in the body, such as increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, to name but a few.” Apart from that, the writer is also on the view that, loud noise has great tendency to enable young people to be unproductive in their daily task because they don’t sleep at night as long as they should. For students/ school going pupils, it means they never have a quiet time in which to study and prepare for their exams at home in the evenings. Now I have seen why academic excellence is no more breathing in Sierra Leone. Yes, today everyone is complaining that students/ school pupils are not performing well in their academic work as they should; the hard fact is that some students/ pupils live in neighbourhoods that are so highly polluted with noise that there is no way they can put huge focus on their studies. Honestly, it is arduous to fathom and imagine a child or student who resides adjacent to a bar or nightclub that is on full blast of music for most of the day and night, doing excellently in their academic work. This is sad for our nation!!!  In the same vein, just visit any one of our MDAs at the afternoon and chances are you will surely see some officers nodding at their desks or even in profound sleep. Yes, the cause might be that they were not allowed their full night sleep as a result of noise pollution.

 

On the side of unemployed and uneducated youths, the night clubs are a training ground for all kinds of nefarious and callous acts. Sadly, they spend all their time around these places all night, to smoke, to drink and to take harmful drugs like ‘kush’ and to a greater extend they also go to these places to form cliques and gangs.  Uncontrolled and sustained loud music at night also encourages crime as thieves can easily break into people’s doors/ houses without hearing them. Indeed, incidents have been reported of people finding their premises broken into at the time when music was at its loudest point. In some places like Moyeaba and Black Hall Road where they have this program called ‘happy hour’ music is played all Saturday night until eight or nine on Sunday. WHY?

 

Vividly, the Public Order Act of 1965 categorically spells that:

“It shall be unlawful for any person except with the permission of the Commissioner of Police, first had and obtained, to pay or cause to be played in or upon any house, outhouse, building, shed, yard or place, after the hour of midnight or before the hour of six in the morning, any gramophone or similar instrument and the occupier of any such house, out-house, building, shed or other place in or upon which any such instrument shall have been played between the said hours, without such permission, shall be guilty of an offence”

 

Now you have seen how the law has categorically spelt out the crime of noise pollution. So, since the law is there, Papa government or Freetown City Council/ police officers what are you waiting? Do you want to wait until things go out of hands? NO!! I think it is high time you ACTED!!!

 

Apart from the foregoing laws, the Freetown City Council By-laws on nuisance has spelt it vividly that on no account that anybody to pollute Freetown with noise. It states: “Any musical instrument, loudspeaker or other equipment used unnecessarily shall be impounded by council and fine of 250,000 paid.” As the law spells it, how speakers/ musical instrument have you compounded, Madam Mayor.

 

Ask any nightclub operator why his/ her music has to be turned on full blast and he/ she would tell you that that is the only way to attract customers. As previously mentioned, some churches operate on this paradigm. They will tell you that, the louder the music, the more people would be attracted. Residents in areas around such churches dread/ deprived from good sleep rather than look forward to the time when they open their doors for services. To some extent, they have contributed towards destroying the calmness and serenity of the environment and affect people’s well-being. Peace in particular does not only means the absence of war or other kinds of uproar; it also means the emotional, mental and physical well-being of people. Apart from the churches, even within our homes were we living in close proximity with each other there should be respect for each other’s space?  For instance, if there are people wanting to do different things at the same time, such as reading, watching TV, playing music or listening to the radio, not one of them has a right over the other. If the volume of the radio is such that the person watching TV cannot hear or concentrate, it definitely means that that person’s right is being trampled upon. Madam Mayor, what have you done?

 

To sum it up, we have already seen that there are laws governing levels of noise pollution/ loud music in our country. The problem is with the implementation or enforcement of the Public Order Act of 1965 is very august at this modern age. The solution is not to be found in telling people to only play their loud music at certain times of the day. No one knows what is happening in another person house. It might be that a gravely ill person needs peace and quietness just at the same time when someone else decides to turn on their musical set at full volume because the permit them to do so at that time of the day. What is the solution? Moderate the volume of the musical set so that no one who does not want to hear it does. Those organizing house parties should confine and conform to the rules and their music as much as possible within the premises. Yes. It is the civilized thing to do.

SIMPLE AS THAT!!!

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