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Comment: Ghana, The Noise Laboratory   
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The law establishing the Environmental Protection Agency gave the Agency a mandate, as per Section 28 of the EPA Act 490, to protect the people of Ghana against all forms of pollution, including noise pollution.

Within Accra, this law is given sharper teeth by the bye-laws of the Accra metropolitan Assembly, specifically the law on ‘Abatement of Noise Nuisance’. Under that bye-law, the permissible residential area noise level is 60 decibels during the day and 55 at night.

From the Mayor, through the Assemblymen and women, right down to the man/woman in the street, everybody in Accra knows that this law is more observed in the breach than in the observance. In this era of awards, Accra could compete favourably with Lagos and a few others for the ‘Noisiest city in Africa’ award.

While the Makolas, the Mallam Attas and the Agbogbloshies could be excused because they are typical African markets where competition feeds on noise, it is inexcusable that sellers of music on Compact Disc and cassettes should be allowed to float the streets of the city booming and blaring their wares to the annoyance of everybody.

Most of the time, they position themselves, after hours on the move, at a popular junction or spot. They could not be bothered if this spot of junction were close to an office or other working place. As the electrical generator-powered loud-speakers boom across distances, a recorded voice competes for hearing with the intent to draw more attention to the brand or the artiste.

Try drawing their attention to the noise-level and one becomes “too known” and may be lucky enough to escape with only some expletives. These music sellers are the city’s latest nuisance. Their operation defies all norms of normal social behaviour.

A second category of nuisance are the beer bars that are allowed by the Ghana Tourist Board to operate in residential areas.

Their closet first cousins are the Christian “dawn broadcasters” who operate in the neighbourhood with megaphones or battery powered microphones. A soft-toned, low volume “broadcast” is generally regarded as normal and is now acceptable in many communities. But they have gone beyond the normal human voice, and now preach via noisy megaphones or loud speakers.

They compete, in several communities with the muezzin’s “call to prayer” from mosques about 4:30am. It is amazing that the simple act of calling people in the immediate community to prayer is now done with microphones.

Generally, many Ghanaians do not dare to confront this category of noise-makers for fear of being labeled anti-God. Taking advantage of the Ghanaian’s proverbial timidity and God-fearing nature, therefore, they murder sleep (to borrow the words of William Shakespeare).

When it comes to confronting issues and getting the right thing done, Ghanaians can do very little to help themselves without official intervention, mostly from the police. It has become part of our make-up: very few people will stand up to the law breaker or social nuisance, unless they are part of a crowd. That is why lynching is so preferable; because the individual is hidden in the crowd.

It is precisely for this reason that with reference to noise-making in the city, the Ghanaian Times is happy to learn that the AMA has acquired a number of ‘Noise Metres’ used in measuring noise levels, akin to the speed control device of the MTTU.

This device will help control the noise around us; that is, if the officers sent out to measure noise levels and arrest offenders do not use that to enrich themselves with bribes.

Source: The Ghanaian Times

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