By Patrick Jaramogi;
Kololo: Jubilation and happiness filled the homes of those residing in Kololo after Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and National Environment management Authority (NEMA) swung into action and closed two of the seven bars accused of noise pollution.
Residents in this upscale Kampala Suburb have for several years complained to KCCA and NEMA regarding the rampant noise that comes from the bars spread in the vicinity. The five residents including OXFAM International Executive Director Eng. Winnie Byanyima dragged the seven bars, KCCA and NEMA to court over noise pollution.
The bars include; Casablanca, Wave Lounge, Atmosphere Lounge, H20 Lounge, Big Mike’s, Bubbles and O’Leary. But just before the main suit that was set for hearing before Justice Henrietta Wolayo on Monday, 26 February 2019, KCCA and NEMA swung into action at the weekend and shut down Atmosphere Lounge and singer Raga Dees’s Big Mikes.
What Is Acceptable Noise?
As per the rules, the prescribed highest limit of noise levels for residential localities is 55 and 45 decibels (during the day and the night respectively), for silence zones the level is 50 and 40 decibels, respectively.
According to NEMA, the bars were closed for breaching the National Environment (Noise Standards And Control) Regulations, 2003, sections 28 and 107 of the National Environment Act Cap 153)
The court suit followed a complaint that is in line with the “Act” that states that any one is free to file a complaint arising out of “annoyance” or feeling of displeasure evoked by noise, or any feeling of resentment, discomfort or irritation occurring when noise intrudes into another person’s thoughts or mood, or interferes with any activity being done by the affected person.
The bar owners are however permitted to apply for licenses to be in position to run bars with loud noise.
According to the Act, an owner or occupier of premises whose works or activities are likely to emit noise in excess of the permissible noise levels shall apply to the Executive Director (NEMA) in the form prescribed in Part I of the Second Schedule, for a licence to emit noise in excess of the permissible levels.
The Executive Director, on receiving an application under sub-regulation, may issue the occupier or owner of the premises with a licence to emit noise in excess of the permissible levels in the form prescribed in Part II of the Second Schedule, on such terms and conditions as may be contained in the licence.
Some of the bar owners we talked to accused KCCA and NEMA of sidelining with some bars to stifle the operations of others. “Our bars all make noise, we complain but we have always fallen prey to KCCA officials who come and confiscate our machines for weeks, yet our competitors are left to operate,” said the proprietor of Big Mikes that was closed.
Last year Big Mike suffered huge losses after a team of officials from KCCA took their machines for several weeks rendering their business dull and low.
Fines For Offenders
According to the Act, any person found contravening the law may, depending on the judgement passed and circumstances found, be fine between shs180,000 to shs18 million or be imprisoned for two years or both.