Harare has witnessed an increase in noise pollution over the last few months, especially in the CBD. This has been attributed by some to the increased number of vendors now doing business on the streets.
According to Wikipedia noise pollution is any disturbing or excessive noise that may harm the activity or balance of human or animal life. The sources of environmental noise worldwide are mainly machines, motor vehicles, aircrafts, and trains.
However, humans in Harare are proving to be a major source of noise pollution. Most of the vendors in town have adopted touting as a major marketing tool creating serious noise pollution in the CBD. Some have even gone to the extent of using loudspeakers and PA systems to tout their wares, which has made the city very noisy.
Pesticide vendors who use loudspeakers have increased in number in the CBD and they can now be found anywhere from pavements to street corners. In an interview with Harare News, Dr Cainos Chingombe, the City’s Human Capital and Public Safety Director, said that the pesticide vendors were not licensed to use loudspeakers. “Municipal bylaws do not allow anything or anyone to make noise that disturbs residents. As council we usually move around advising people not to use gadgets like loudspeakers. For those who refuse to comply, our police will have to enforce the regulations,” said Dr Chingombe.
Some residents in Harare have also complained of noise pollution from churches and wedding venues that are situated in residential areas. Sharon Magodyo, the Community Coordinator for Harare Residents Trust, discouraged churches that use high powered PA systems in residential areas. “Most suburbs have Pentecostal churches operating in residential areas and at times in very restricted premises with very few people in attendance and yet they have high powered public address systems that definitely pollute the environment. There are other growing churches that have larger attendances which deserve to be allocated stands for their operations. Noise is really a nuisance and it must be controlled in a progressive and democratic manner,” said Magodyo.
Gamuchirai Nyamakura (24) from Braeside said that Harare has become noisy due to touting and urged the City Fathers to work on the enforcement of noise regulations. “The issue of noise is really a problem in Harare and for a start council should ban all forms of touting. Churches in residential areas should be regulated to use speakers which correspond to the number of worshippers they have because it does not make sense to have a church with 50 people using 10 speakers when one would be sufficiently audible,” explained Nyamakura.
However, one noise polluter, a pesticide vendor who works for a fumigation company and uses a loudspeaker to tout his wares around the CBD, professed ignorance of the City’s noise pollution regulations, saying, “I don’t know anything about the noise pollution regulations. We were only given these loudspeakers at work so that we could increase our presence on the streets.”
Some of the long term and immediate effects of noise pollution include hearing impairment, stress related illnesses, loss of concentration, and speech interference.