Churches on the spot over noise pollution, court order them to cease or be prosecuted

Judge Nelly Awori Matheka made the orders in cases filed against Salvation Hope and Restoration Ministry, Jesus Manifestation Center, and Holistic Mission for all nations Kiembeni Worship Sanctuary. [iStockphoto]

They noted they have been denied their right to a healthy, clean environment that is devoid of excessive noise. They sought among other orders compensation in the form of damages for the inconvenience, annoyance, and discomfort arising from the excessive noise emissions.

The churches in the various suits denied infringing on the residents' Constitutional rights to a healthy, clean environment that is devoid of excessive noise as alleged.

Lucy Akoth Njagi on behalf of Salvation Hope and Restoration Ministry said they have endeavored to have a reasonable amount of sound adding that there are Mosques and bars within the Kiembeni area and hence they should not be discriminated against.

John Mwaiwe on behalf of Holistic Mission for all Nations Worship Sanctuary said the church has in no manner infringed on any of the petitioners' Constitutional rights to a healthy, clean environment devoid of excessive noise as alleged by the Petitioners.

The church according to Mwaiwe carries out its operations at specific scheduled church services which include Sunday Church service which runs from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm and has been engaging a reasonable amount of sound, especially with the instruments.

Dennis Sirya Samson on behalf of the Jesus Manifestation Center also denied the claims.

The judge while determining the cases noted that NEMA visited the site on June 27, 2022, and July 3, 2022, and made a report stating that the sound is a pollutant in relation to Regulation 3 (1) and (2) of the Environmental Management and Coordination (Noise and Excessive Vibration Pollution Control) Regulations, 2009 and a noise survey was recommended.

The County Government the court noted did carry out the noise surveillance and did determine that the noise levels were beyond the recommended levels. It was established that the levels were high during praise and worship sessions where all equipment is used.

The court noted that the three petitions were merited and ordered that the churches through their actions and inactions that have resulted in excessive noise emissions have violated the residents' rights to a clean and healthy environment.

The churches being within a mixed residential area were ordered to restrict the noise level. The court ordered the County Government and NEMA to prosecute the churches should they fail to cease to cause noise pollution.

NEMA and the County Government were ordered to enforce EMCA and the Environmental Management and Coordination (Noise and Excessive Vibration Pollution) (Control) Regulations to ensure the abatement of unreasonable noise and vibration noise pollution emitted into the environment from any source within Mombasa County that may interfere with the comfort, repose, health or safety of members of the public.