The level of noise pollution in some parts of Harare suburbs is on the increase. Noise from a neighbour or an informal venue nearby can be unbearable but often residents don’t know what to do about it. However, there are noise by-laws that safeguard residents from unwanted disturbance (see below).
Recently, some sports clubs and shopping centres have been awash with activities that residents have called council to act upon. According to Monavale resident Allan Deary, a wedding venue and sports club close to his home have become serious points of irritation. “Some days I am forced to leave my place, as nonstop noise coming from the venues becomes disturbing,” he complained.
Steve Davies of Conservation Society of Monavale (COSMO Trust) said the city has to act now.
Resident of Belgravia, Elizabeth Coates said council has to take measures to quell noise coming from Belgravia Sports Club. “Something should be done to stop it. Every day there is a function taking place and the noise is awful,” she said.
Meanwhile in Marlborough, Menard Muvhimi says, “Many of the clubs are used for functions other than what they were formed for.” He said sport clubs should stick to their core duties of providing sporting activities rather than becoming entertainment hubs.
According to Engineer Nyabeza, director of inspectorate in the City of Harare, the council has always reacted to complaints by residents.
“Our first advice is always to speak to the person causing the noise. Most of the time they don’t realise they are causing a nuisance and are usually happy to change what they are doing,” he said.
He went on to say, “If you have spoken to them and the noise continues to be a problem, you can make a complaint which we will investigate. However, remember that a letter or visit from us could make things worse, so always try to speak to them first.”
Is there a fine for causing a noise nuisance?
There has been no schedule of fines for breaching the city noise regulation, but public entertainment venues should have a licence which controls the way in which certain activities are run. These may have conditions attached to them, which require specific measures to minimise noise. This could include a restriction on hours of operation.
“When a Notice is breached, we can decide to take action to reduce or remove the nuisance ourselves,” Engineer Nyabeza said, explaining, “This can include seizing any equipment responsible for causing the nuisance such as the speakers people put on street corners to play their music.”
He said that sometimes investigations can be complicated and lengthy. “Certain types of noise are difficult for us to assess so we may ask you to contact us at the time you are experiencing a problem or fill in diaries with details of how often the noise occurs.”
“If the problem cannot be resolved informally, we will need to witness the noise. This can be done either by visiting at times when the noise is happening or by using noise recording equipment installed in your home,” said Engineer Nyabeza.
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