Over time in the media, there has been a plethora of complaints from persons in various parts of the country pertaining to noise nuisance. In every instance, the frustration of those affected was very evident, and one common gripe was the perceived lack of action by the authorities to fully address the situation. The sources of the audio bombardment include from what seems ubiquitous limes and other entertainment shows, neighbours, bars and vehicles.
In every scenario, people are subjected to brutal and sustained assaults by high- decibel sounds which often last throughout the night. The harsh reality is that everyone within the affected zone, including children, the elderly and the sick, is rendered helpless and deprived of sleep. That in itself brings or exacerbates related health consequences, as people feel a profound sense of lassitude, since their energy has been sapped.
Some complaints detailed the horrible effects especially on babies. A toll is eventually taken, and in turn productivity and studies are affected for those who work and attend institutions of learning respectively. Unfortunately, this is ongoing across the country, and gauging from what is in the public domain, it appears that not much has been achieved by law enforcement to curb this menace.
Regional Commander for Division 4 ‘C’, Superintendent Khali Pareshram, has said that statistics show an increase in complaints of noise nuisance on the East Coast Demerara (ECD) corridor. The commander said that while ranks on the ECD are attempting to act on every report, their biggest challenge is that persons are not officially making reports. Thus, prosecution chances are low. This came on the heels of concerns that have been raised by residents, who continue to report problems of noise nuisances in their areas.
Of course, some reports are responded to and action is taken, but clearly it does not present a deterrent to those who continue to make others uncomfortable. It begs the question of whether they really understand the impact noise has on people. Further, this may be an impetus for the authorities to relook at not just the criteria for granting permission for bar-b-ques and entertainment shows, but for the proximity of residents to be taken as a primary consideration.
Barring national events, weddings, and other necessary infrequent events to some extent, the wellbeing of people must be foremost. It is understood that there is a requirement for the Police, as one of the approving authorities, to get the consent of residents before granting approval for events in question. This is clearly an area on which the public can be advised as to whether it is being done in a sustained and thorough manner. Based upon the documented complaints, it doesn’t appear so.
Also, there have been allegations of either collusion or the deliberate turning of a blind eye to people’s plight. Bars, including some in parts of the city, blast music unfettered throughout the night, especially on weekends. Reports are that calls for relief go unheeded, allegedly for reasons relating to benefits.
The growing phenomenon of parked vehicles belting loud music is also having the same effect. Similarly, what occurs in some minibuses need no explanation.
For the schoolchildren, this not only poses a health issue, but has a profound influence on their minds and actions. A useful research would be to explore the correlation between the exposure to this type of music and violence and other unsavoury actions in schools by some students. In many ways, this can be deemed as a form of mind-conditioning of the younger ones, and it can have serious social consequences. It may also be useful to explore if there is a correlation between this and poor academic grades.
While the findings of the research, if conducted, would be extremely useful, there first has to be a firmer acceptance by the authorities of the serious problem and related consequences of loud music, which is a form of pollution. There is no doubt that the Police are challenged for resources if their priority is combating crime. That said, there has to be a commitment to find a way of making noise nuisance a priority, thereby paving the way for it to be dealt with in a sustained manner.