The Noise and Excessive Vibration Pollution (Control) Regulations, 2009 have largely been ignored in Kenya. When the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) came up with regulations, the noble intention was to prohibit the production of loud, unreasonable, unnecessary or unusual noise which annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health or safety of others and the environment.
Indeed, the Nema website states, “The rules are meant to elevate the standards of living of the people by prescribing acceptable noise levels for different facilities and activities. The regulations prescribe the maximum permissible noise levels from a facility or activity to which a person may be exposed to; provide for the control of noise; and provide for mitigating measures for the reduction of noise”.
Noise pollution remains one of the biggest irritants, especially in urban areas even though rural villages have not been spared either. Be it loud music from city matatu, blaring speakers from disco halls, places of worship and street preachers, the level of noise is unacceptable and calls for the enforcement of the Nema noise pollution regulations.
Last week, there was public uproar and complaints against a noisy pub set at the heart of a residential area in a posh Nairobi suburb. As it stands, street preachers, mosques and churches are the biggest culprits in noise pollution. Freedom of worship in Kenya is guaranteed, but common sense dictates that such freedom stops where it intrudes on other people’s privacy and comfort. For that reason, Nema must get out of its slumber and follow the example of Rwanda in curbing noise pollution.
Rwanda has banned at least 700 unsafe and noisy churches in a bid to control noise pollution. It has also banned mosques in the capital, Kigali, from using loudspeakers during the call to prayer. We can worship God without being a nuisance to other people, especially the sick and elderly who need some quiet moments. Chiefs and their assistants, including police officers, should also help in enforcing noise control regulations.