Music to your ears, noise to your neighbour

29Mar 2016
The Guardian
Music to your ears, noise to your neighbour

Music is a lubricant to social life. Where there is music, there is merriment and with it, happy people.

Bumping their heads and tapping their feet, swaying and rocking their bodies; humans have a knack for music.

No one knows more of this intrinsic relation that humans have with music than bar and club owners and their managers.

Open your little saloon and short of blasting music, the only clients you will have are sympathising family members and friends.

Put some big speakers, hooked to high voltage subwoofer and turn the volume up, and as faithfully, if not more, as they respond to religious callings, clients will flock to your door step.

You can rest assured, that thanks to loud music, your desolate tavern will overnight be transformed into a famous watering hole.

However, as you bank the revenue in the wee hours of the night, what is the fate of your neighbours who leave across the street from your bar?

How are they to sleep and wake up energetic and ready for productive nation building work if their nights are spent tossing and turning because of the blaring music?
The answer is simple, they cannot.

Instead of energetic, they wake up exhausted, irate and likely to be unproductive throughout the day given their poor temperament and physical fatigue. That is the case for working persons and children alike.

We all agree that expecting undirected attention from a child who has not had a good night’s sleep is simply unrealistic.

It is for this reason that night clubs are required to have special noise insulations to keep the blaring music in the club where the persons have chosen to listen to it.

However, a bar playing equally loud music in a residential area is forcing everyone in the neighbourhood, adults and children alike, to stay up and listen to their music (or noise).

While data is not readily available, it is evident that the socio-economic impact wrought by lack of rest is immense.

This ranges from inefficient employees to underperforming students. No one is safe from fatigue and when tired, one’s productivity falls sharply.

Now, while we would like to point an accusing finger to bars as the sinners’ haven, noise pollution is also notoriously caused by houses of worship.

So, earlier this year, in response to the plight of the thousands of urban dwellers, especially in Dar es Salaam, the National Environment Management Council (Nemc) announced a major crackdown on noise pollution calling it, ‘a public nuisance.’

Media reports at the time said Nemc officials in collaboration with the police (Environmental Unit) planned an onslaught on bars, night clubs, churches, factories and also individuals causing noise to the public.

To do this, Nemc would have been acting under the legal provisions of the Environment Act of 2004 and subsequent regulations that have since been enacted into law.

However, even armed with these legal provisions the authority has failed to curb the menace, citing shortage of staff.

Even in its announcement of the crackdown, Nemc requested the government for a permit to employ 200 workers just to conduct the exercise in Dar es Salaam. To this one wonders, lack of staffing in the face of high unemployment even for ex-national service officers? This is an area that calls for executive intervention.

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