AS we sympathise with Chirundu residents over the issue of noise pollution, we wish to appeal to the council and the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) to deal with noise pollution because it is getting out of control.
Then problem of unregulated bars, shabeens, taverns and illegal drinking places, set up right next to residences and playing loud music, is not only peculiar to Chirundu District but it is in fact the trend in most of Zambia’s towns.
Surprisingly, the local authorities almost everywhere appear not to mind the trend, the confusion and disturbances caused by the overcrowded drinking places and the noise pollution that they generate because none of them seem to be doing anything about it.
ZEMA, the organization legally tasked with the responsibility of controlling noise pollution through prosecuting the perpetrators, is also quiet and just helplessly watching the situation degenerate as people are stressed and tortured more by the loud music.
The worst part of the problem is that other than causing noise pollution, most of the bars and taverns tend to close beyond the stipulated time.
The local authorities are aware of this malpractice by some drinking places which tend to even subject the residents to disturbances while they sleep, but simply ignore this because the noise still continues and the bars still close beyond the stipulated time.
Bar men seem not to mind the law anymore and tend to do things as they wish and with impunity.
They simply put powerful HiFi equipment outside their buildings and blast loud music into the residential areas without any care about how it would disturb people.
The residents now simply suffer in silence because they do not know what they should do to try and where find a solution to the noise pollution issue.
Their complaints and reports to ZEMA and the local authorities are never acted upon while the police say it’s none of their business as bar owners continue to do things like business as usual.
But the law governing the establishment of bars and other drinking places in relation to how close they should be situated from the residential areas, and the level of music they should play, is very clear.
Why should people not enjoy their peace and quiet simply because of illegal behaviour by bar owners and the inept attitude by the law enforcement agencies to enforce the law on noise pollution?
We need not take it for granted that noise pollution, also known as environmental noise, or sound pollution, could have very harmful impact on our health and lives as human beings.
It is, of course, tempting to think that noise isn’t a serious health issue, after all, it’s just noise.
It won’t cause us any harm. But exposure to prolonged or excessive noise has been shown to cause a range of health problems, from stress, poor concentration, productivity losses in the workplace, and communication difficulties and fatigue due to lack of sleep, to more serious issues such as cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, and hearing loss.
The most obvious and dangerous effect noise could have on our human bodies is interrupted sleep, which eventually results in fatigue, impaired memory and judgement. And all these conditions are potentially fatal.
But there is another, more serious outcome. It appears that continual exposure to noise pollution sets off the body’s acute stress response, which raises blood pressure and heart rate, a potentially fatal condition too.
Sound is always undesirable when it either interferes with our normal activities, such as sleep, conversation, or disrupts and diminishes our quality of life.
The authorities need to act to end the noise pollution problem once and for all.