MUKONO: Mukono Municipal authorities have purchased sound level meters to limit noise pollution from churches, sound trucks, and bars.
According to the World Health Organization, exposure to elevated sound levels or constant noise beyond 85 decibels for more than eight hours may be hazardous to human health. This is the kind of noise that someone may be exposed to if they work near a busy road or highway, where they may hear constant street traffic sounds from cars, buses, and ambulances.
Such sounds can also be picked up from construction sounds like drilling or other heavy machinery in operation; constant loud music in or near commercial venues; industrial sounds like fans, generators, compressors, mills; and events involving fireworks, firecrackers, and loudspeakers, among others.
According to medical experts, such exposure could lead to hypertension arising out of elevated blood levels for a longer period, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, dementia, and psychological dysfunctions, and can also affect child development. It’s against this background that Mukono municipality authorities have invested seven million shillings to procure two handheld sound level meters to monitor noise levels in the Central and Goma divisions.
The machine comprises a microphone, a preamplifier, a signal processor, and a display. The microphone converts the sound signal to an equivalent electrical signal and enables the machines to measure sound at different rates by recording, reporting, and also analyzing noise exposure.
Mukono Municipal Mayor Erisa Mukasa Nkoyoyo notes that the sound meters will be used by their environmental technical team to mitigate the challenge of noise pollution, especially that generated by churches in residential areas and sound trucks operating close to health facilities. He says that the procurement followed repeated complaints from residents, schools, and health facilities about the uncontrolled noise in the municipality.
Nkoyoyo notes that the environmental technical team is going to use the National Environment (Noise Standards and Control) Regulations, 2003 to monitor noise levels. The regulations ensure the maintenance of a healthy environment for all people in the country by prescribing the maximum permissible noise levels from a facility or activity to which a person may be exposed.
The standards empower the environmental inspectors at the local council to seize, impound or confiscate any property, tool, machinery or other instrument which causes the emission of noise, if, in his or her opinion, the confiscation would cause tranquillity in the area. The owner of the confiscated gadgets commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine of not less than 180,000 shillings and not more than 18 million shillings, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 18 months, or both.
According to the standards, the maximum permissible noise levels for any building used as a hospital, convalescence home, home for the aged, sanatorium, institutes of higher learning, conference rooms, public libraries, and environmental or recreational sites do not exceed 45 decibels during the day and 35 decibels during the night.
Mukono municipality has a collection of churches planted within residential areas. These are often conducted overnight and in the morning prayers, using megaphones facing different directions. But religious leaders saw the city’s decision as an attempt to stop the spreading of the gospel.
Farouk Kaziire, a resident of Mukono Central Division, says that instead, the municipality should make the nightclubs their primary target before involving places of worship which operate on planned schedules.
Another resident, Beatrice Nassozi, wonders why municipal authorities also target churches, whose aim is to emphasize good morals within the communities