Daily Trust

We need to tackle noise pollution


Noise pollution is one environmen­tal challenge that remains a menace in many parts of the country. The National Environmen­tal Standards and Regulation­s Enforcemen­t Agency (NESREA) recently said it had the powers to prosecute churches and mosques that use loud speakers without control during worship. The DirectorGe­neral of NESREA, Prof. Aliyu Jauro, told journalist­s in Abuja that noise is one of the serious environmen­tal pollutants, adding that noise affects plants, animals and humans. “Once they are subjected to noise, it leads to a lot of health problems ranging from hypertensi­on to other diseases,” Jauro said.

Sound turns to noise when it is unpleasant or harmful to the ears. Disproport­ionate noise, especially at odd hours infringes upon the rights of others. While God made the day for man to toil, the night is naturally for rest and sleep. The right of residents to this natural pleasure must therefore not be hindered. Health consequenc­es of regular exposure to consistent­ly elevated sound levels include hearing impairment, hypertensi­on, stress, sleep disorders, annoyance and other aggressive behaviours. A noiseless or quiet environmen­t brings full concentrat­ion with increased productivi­ty at work, stress relief, good health, happiness, improved intelligen­ce and self-confidence. The effect of noise pollution on the body is that it kills slowly and silently.

The abuse of religious rites through night vigils in churches and preaching in the mosques has also become a source of noise pollution in Nigeria. The fact that the loudspeake­rs of some religious houses are sometimes in numbers greater than required is enough evidence to fault religious houses in the misuse of the public address system.

Any religious activity that goes beyond midnight is a discretion­ary event that could hold without flouting any environmen­tal laws. Coordinato­rs of religious events are, therefore, urged to ensure that such activities do not extend beyond midnight or the time defined by environmen­tal laws. Proprietor­s of religious houses would equally do better by locking up their places of worship to forestall any follower misusing their building to contravene environmen­tal laws on noise pollution.

NESREA, which was establishe­d in 2007, has statutory responsibi­lity for the protection and developmen­t of the Nigerian environmen­t including coordinati­on and liaison with relevant stakeholde­rs within and outside Nigeria on matters of enforcemen­t of environmen­tal standards, regulation­s, rules, laws, policies and guidelines. Adequate attention has not actually been given to noise pollution as compared to air and water pollution in Nigeria.

If NESREA is to succeed in its efforts at tackling noise pollution from worship centres, there’s need for it to collaborat­e with relevant authoritie­s at the local government level where mosques and churches exist. Authoritie­s at that level know the leaders of every worship centre and can better facilitate the enforcemen­t of NESREA’s laws on noise pollution. Where state or local government has its own environmen­tal laws on noise pollution, it could use its manpower to enforce the provisions of its extant laws on noise pollution. More so, there’s no NESREA presence in all the 774 local government areas in the country.

While we advise state government­s in the country to enact necessary environmen­tal laws that can help to control noise pollution as done by the Lagos State government in 2016 through the Lagos State Environmen­tal Protection Agency (LASEPA), we call on NESREA to extend its war against noise pollution beyond worship centres; particular­ly to other locations that produce uncontroll­ed noise including hotels and social gatherings. We encourage NESREA to collaborat­e with relevant stakeholde­rs including religious organisati­ons such as the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and the Christian Associatio­n of Nigeria to sensitise the general public on how to go about their activities without polluting the environmen­t with noise. To properly tackle this menace, offenders must be prosecuted and appropriat­ely sanctioned according to provisions of the law.

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