Despite the directive from the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency on acceptable noise levels in various parts of the Lagos, many religious and centres are still doing business as usual
| By Vincent Nzemeke | Jun. 17, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
SINCE Jude Esiri moved into a new apartment in Abesan Estate, Iyana Ipaja, about three months ago, life has not been the same for him. For someone who presents a late night show in a radio station, sleeping in the early hours of the morning, reading in the afternoon is a prerequisite if he must to maintain a healthy lifestyle and prepare adequately for his job.
But every morning when Esiri returns from work and tries to get some sleep, he is disturbed by the noise coming from a church opposite his house where there seems to be a never ending crusade and other activities. The constant prayers, singing and chantings wafting from the loudspeakers placed at the roof of the church, ensures that Esiri and other neighbours are denied the comfort they should have in their homes. They are compelled to be part of the service even though they are not in the church. “I don’t know what these church people are doing that they have to come and disturb everybody every day. The moment they start their services, you can’t rest or do anything meaningful in your house because the noise from their loudspeaker is always very loud. I can’t sleep in the morning when I return from work and I can’t read or do any other thing in the afternoon too because of the noise coming from the church.”
Esiri is rarely at home at night, but the few nights he had spent in his new apartment are full of memories of the church’s vigil service which made it impossible for him to sleep until the end of the church programme in the early hours of the morning. “The night programmes are always very intense and only a dead man can sleep in that condition. The prayer and singing sessions are usually very loud and they don’t stop till the early hours of the morning”.
It is not only Esiri and his neighbours in the estate that are presently battling with the growing menace of noise pollution in Lagos state. In Bashorun Street Agege, where Peter Ndukwe has a tutorial centre, the high sounds from a mosque opposite his building and a barbing salon nearby, are a regular source of worry for him and his students. At every prayer hour when the mosque’s loudspeakers come alive, teachers at the tutorial centre have to shout on the top of their voices while delivering lessons to the students. While the distraction from the mosque lasts for a few minutes at intervals, the music blaring from the barbing salon’s speakers is non-stop. The teachers and students at the tutorial centre have adapted to it and no longer consider it a distraction. “We have complained and pleaded with them to always reduce the volume of the sound because students are studying here. But they refused and told us to mind our own business. It is a very bad thing but there is nothing we can do other than to adapt.”
Noise pollution is fast becoming a challenge for residents in various parts of Lagos. Residents in various parts of the metropolis have to cope with noise pollution emanating from worship and viewing centres, barbing salons, record shops, promotional campaigns, ice cream sellers, commercial motorists and other business ventures. The development which has triggered some rifts in some neighbourhoods has also attracted the attention of the government.
About a year ago, the Lagos State government shutdown some branches of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and Mountain of Fire Ministries located in Ojo. Although the churches were later reopened following the intervention of some religious leaders in the state, there was a stern warning to the pastors of the churches to reduce the noise they produce by removing the speakers placed outside their church buildings.
The warning was followed with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between officials of the Lagos chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, LASEPA. In the memoranda, CAN agreed that churches under its umbrella should remove external loud speakers from their places of worship in order not to disturb public peace. But one year after that agreement, many churches are yet to comply. In various parts of the state, there are churches constituting nuisance through loud speakers placed outside their worship centres.
Last month, LASEPA shut down two churches and six companies over cases of noise pollution in various parts of the state. The agency shut the affected places after serving them abatement notices, which they failed to obey. The agency has also embarked on a sensitisation campaign to educate people like Sunday Olatunji, a barbing salon operator. He was quoted as saying “we have to play music to attract customers. If you don’t do that, some customers will think you are not around.”
Rasheed Shabi, general manager of LASEPA, said even though many organisations were yet to comply with the directives, the agency was doing its best to solve the problem. “We have been educating and sensitising these religious houses on how they should manage noise. We went round to inform people that every area has its acceptable sound level which must be observed. For example, during the day residential areas are not to exceed 55 decibels and 45 decibels at night. As for churches and mosques, we asked them to enclose their spaces and pull down those speakers outside.”