The Rivers State Government recently advised churches and business operators in the state to desist from generating noise pollution.
The Special Adviser to Governor Nyesom Wike on Pollution Control, Mr Nwuke Anucha, gave the warning at a meeting on pollution control and religious matters with members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Port Harcourt. He was concerned about the noise pollution produced by the sound system used by churches. According to him, a responsible government would not tolerate the menace.
“My lords, you will agree with me that the emission of gaseous substance, the sound level of our electric power generator sets, and indeed the noise generated by the use of loud speakers in some of our worship centres, no doubt, cause serious disorder to human co-existence.
“It is on this premise of good neighbourliness that necessitated this meeting. The public outcry about the noise and air pollution generated by some of our churches is so alarming that no responsible and responsive government will shy away from taking necessary actions,” the special adviser explained.
Like many other environmental problems, noise pollution has continued to grow and accompanied by increase in complaints by those who are constantly exposed to it. Some analysts say the growth of noise pollution in Port Harcourt is unsustainable with attendant adverse health implications.
Medical doctors divide the effects of noise into four categories: physical effects, such as hearing defects; physiological effects, such as high blood pressure, irregularity of heart beat and ulcers; psychological effects, such as disorders, sleeplessness, late sleep and irritability and, finally, effects on work performance such as less productivity.
A journalist and publisher, Mr. Robert Harry, lauds the state government’s move to reduce what he termed “the high rate” of noise nuisance. He says the policy should not only affect religious bodies, but also music shop owners and mobile medicine vendors. According to him, they constitute a big nuisance to decent urban life. Hear him:
“The question of noise control in Rivers State is long overdue. I will really appreciate it if the Wike government can truly enforce it down the line without fear or favour. We have suffered well enough in this state from this problem. The policy should be equally enforced hard on security agents who use sirene anyhow to disturb our peace and also medicine vendors.”
Sharing similar sentiments, an environmental scientist, Mrs Violet Green, says if the government can truly control noise in the state, it will be a big feat. She says as an environmentalist, she knows the effect of noise on human health and therefore would support anything done to end it.
“Let me say here that the warning given to noise producers in the state is the best news I have heard of recent. I want it to be followed up just the way the government has said it. An enforcement taskforce should be set up from the state environment ministry to implement the policy,” she said.
Green explains that noise in other climes is a criminal offence which is punished with fines or imprisonment. She urged the government to introduce regulations to control unacceptable noise levels and said such regulations should cover not only individuals but corporate bodies.
She notes that the anti-noise pollution drive should be done devoid of any political or religious motive and advised the government to make adequate publicity before moving to clamp down on offenders. She noted that noise pollution by individuals at their residences should be included as violations.
Similarly, an educationist, Mrs Bulopakaye Kalio, commends the move by the government. According to her, such law or policy would do us a great good because the noise pollution in the state particularly in Port Harcourt is much. She cautioned that if the current noise pollution in the state capital is not controlled, we would develop problems with our ear drums.
“I think it is good because noise has a lot of effects and for Rivers State government to come up with such a decision will save our ear drums from being destroyed. The move will be welcomed and won’t pitch the state against the church in any way. Rather, I think worship centres should install sound proof in their halls of worship.
“But my advice to the state government is to embark on an enlightenment programme. With enlightenment, the people will be prepared and understand the importance of the law. Everyone should be affected by this proposed policy. I mean all religious groups that use loudspeakers for worship as well as mobile music vendors, market women and motorists who misuse their horns. The enforcement should also be extended to those who make noise with their car sound system ,” Kalio cautioned.
A student, Mr. Eldad Tamunotokiniye, lauded the proposed move by the Rivers State government and advised religious bodies and affected groups to comply whenever it was enforced. He condemned a situation where religious organizations hold programmes all night and disturb the neighbourhood in a way that makes it difficult for anyone to observe night rest.
“Everybody is complaining about the high level of noise pollution in Port Harcourt in particular. It has become difficult for people to sleep or rest as nearly every residence is surrounded by either mosques or churches which blare their sound instruments to deafening height. It will be nice if the state government will go about the nuisance in the manner we have heard it,” says Tamunotokiniye.
A Port Harcourt-based legal practitioner, Barrister Forgiven Tambo, referred the state government to an extant law on noise control in the state and advised it to update it to accommodate present day realities. According to him, noise pollution is a nuisance in any society and could affect the health of the people. He said no decent society would tolerate it.
“There is a Noise Control Law which was enacted by the military in 1985. But the law is obsolete and therefore needs to be reviewed and updated to accommodate more noise pollution sources. If that law is reviewed, it can be the legal instrument to tackle the problem in the state,” declares the legal practitioner.
Continuing, Tambo says, “apart from the statutory provisions on noise pollution, there is need for public enlightenment, education and sensitisation on the hazards, dangers and human health problem associated with the problem”.
He, however, advised those affected by noise pollution in their environment to seek redress in court as such action will serve as deterrence to others who would like to follow similar path.