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Noise pollution: a dilemma in the city of Accra

By Naa Bettey Nelson - Ghanaian Chronicle

Noise-making in the capital, Accra, has grown to unbearable proportions, with churches and traders being the worst culprits.

This has also been extended to some homes, where play their sound systems so loudly that they disturb their neighbours and the area.

Some begin parties in the afternoons/evenings and go on till after midnight, and sometimes even, till daybreak.

The Accra File has noticed that music producers have also adopted another way of selling and promoting musical compact discs/cassettes, which is becoming a public nuisance, with its accompanying cacophony of noise.

These producers organise some young men, hire vans and pickups, put in generators with large speakers, and play their music with the volume turned to maximum, all in an attempt to promote and sell their productions.

This does not only cause a public nuisance with the attendant noise, but also cause traffic hold ups, with their indiscriminate parking and distracting music.

This has resulted in a number of road accidents, especially on certain roads of Accra.

These sellers line up in their numbers on some parts of the road, with their products in different vehicles, disturbing the whole atmosphere.

Information reaching the Accra File indicates that these noises also distract the attention of drivers.

These mobile music sellers, in the process of doing business, drive very slowly in the middle of the road holding up traffic, and when their attention is drawn to the inconvenience they are creating, they rather hurl insults and taunts on other drivers, who are caught up in the situation, and dare to complain.

On why they do not display their cassettes and CDs in shops, as was in the past, some complained about the low patronage in the shops, and the fact that there was more competition in the business, so they had to adopt other means of selling their products.

Some also say when the products are in the shops, since they are not played, they are not recognised, and people find it difficult buying them, so they do not sell.

Some sources in the Metro Assembly told The File that there was a law covering noise levels, and especially where these mobile music sellers could operate, but yet they ignore these rules, and even extend it to most residential areas.

Meanwhile, research by the Accra File revealed that noise pollution has a serious toll on people's health, peace, and convenience of a country.

Also, information from the complaints desk of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicates an escalation of the nuisance of noise levels in some suburbs of the Accra Metropolis, and that a total of 78 complaints were received in the year 2007, with about 40% on noise alone.

The activities of churches, mosques, funerals and naming ceremonies account for most of the major sources of noise pollution in the country.

Therefore the dangers posed by prolonged exposure to noise, which is supported by literature from the medical community, cause serious effects such as hearing loss, faster heart beat, blood pressure, muscle tensions, migraine headaches, and high cholesterol levels.

The file also learnt that the EPA has produced some environmental education and awareness creation materials on noise for schools and civil society groups.

This is as a way of sensitising the public on the dangers of noise exposure to human health.

The Accra File is therefore appealing to all and sundry to help reduce the menace of noise levels in the city.

The District Assemblies and the Police Service should also intervene to help reduce noise during festive seasons, and other occasions.