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26.08.2021 Editorial

The Noise Pandemic Will End If We Enforce Laws

By Awula Serwah
The Noise Pandemic Will End If We Enforce Laws
LISTEN AUG 26, 2021

It has been reported that the New Juaben South MP has threatened to shut down all noise-making churches, drinking bars and pubs in his constituency. Another report states that Prof. Emmanuel Appoh an Environmentalist and Acting Director of Environmental Quality of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advised that the EPA is strengthening its noise monitoring and will apply the law rigorously to noise pollution offenders. This is welcome news. Prof Appoh is reported to have added “I have warned my own church about its level of noise. If it does not stop by the end of September, I'll send the church to court.”

Robust and consistent enforcement is what is required. Threats and warnings are pointless if there is no enforcement.

Eco-Conscious Citizens have been campaigning against the noise pandemic and hope that finally noise pollution is being taken seriously by the authorities. Noise pollution is a cancer that needs to be uprooted through robust and consistent enforcement of laws and bye laws on noise. Noise makers are emboldened because of inaction of relevant authorities and take no notice of idle threats. The way forward is enforcement. Enforcement will educate and send a clear message that noise-making will not be tolerated.

We have received numerous complaints about noise pollution. The authorities need to step up to the plate and enforce the law on noise-making.

Noise Pollution is a health concern. A 2011 WHO report indicates that exposure to prolonged or excessive noise causes a range of health problems, from stress, poor concentration, communication difficulties, fatigue from lack of sleep, to cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, tinnitus and hearing loss. Noise pollution causes noise induced hearing loss (NIHL), and can also cause high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep disturbances, and stress. Continuous exposure to noise pollution causes an increase in cholesterol levels and can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Studies have associated exposure to excessive noise with hypertension, neurosis and nervous breakdowns.

There was noise pollution from a party in my neighbourhood on 22nd August. The music was so loud that the vibration caused some houses to shake. The matter was reported to La Police Station and the officer on duty did not seem to appreciate the fact that making excessive noise is a criminal offence. She said the neighbour had a right to have a party. I answered that no one has the right to break the law by causing noise pollution and damaging the health of fellow residents. I should not have had to point out the obvious.

Unfortunately, some police officers are not aware that making noise is a criminal offence under the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29). Section 296 (h) of the Criminal Offences Act makes it an offence to beat or plays a drum, gong, tomtom or any other similar music instrument between eight o'clock in the night and six in the morning without a licence in writing from the minister or local authority. Section 287 (a) states that “A person who without lawful authority or excuse, the proof of which lies on that person, carries on a noxious, an offensive or a noisy business ... so as to impair or endanger the health of the public inhabiting or using the neighbourhood of that place....commits a criminal offence”.

In addition the bye-laws of most Assemblies state that noise should not go beyond the confines of one's premises.

It is a real concern if those tasked with enforcing the law are not aware of the law, or do not appreciate the fact that one cannot pick and choose which laws to enforce if we want an orderly society.

The Noise pandemic is a health concern and doctors and the Ghana Health Service are invited to join the fight to end the pandemic. It is damaging our health and impeding recovery from serious illness.

I have to commend the doctors and team at Nyaho Clinic for successfully treating a member of the Eco-Conscious Citizens family. He is recovering at home, but noise pollution is not helping his recovery.

It is worth noting that the serene garden at Nyaho Clinic helps recovery and highlights the importance of communing with nature and the benefit of green spaces.

Prof. Lade Wosornu has warned that loud noise can kill. He adds “Therefore, the matter is settled. Noise is more than an annoyance. Noise is a hazard to public health. We underestimate to our collective peril the harmful effects of noise, toxic noise and maddening noise."

Let all active citizens join the campaign to save our green spaces and end the noise pollution pandemic. We cannot afford to be spectators and suffer in silence.

Awula Serwah

[email protected]

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