Noise pollution could be defined as an invisible, yet existent and dangerous disturbing or unwanted noise that interferes with normal life and harms humans or wildlife. It impacts negatively on both humans and animals, increasing stress levels, causing or increasing high blood pressure, brain damage, insomnia and hearing loss. There are various types of noise: it could be physical, physiological, psychological and semantic.
Noise pollution mainly comes from human activities like talking loudly, from transportation of all kinds, trains, aircraft, cars, trucks, loud music, construction sites and other industrial activities. All these types of noise pollution have very harmful consequences for humans especially. It could range from physical to psychological stress, it reduces productivity, interferes with communication and concentration, and contributes to industrial accidents because it makes it difficult for workers to hear warning signals.
With a clearer picture of the impact of noise pollution on humans, it is understandable and we commend the efforts and renewed attention by the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) for launching the 6th edition of the Noiseless Lagos Campaign at the Ojota motor park.
The General Manager of LASEPA, Engr. Adebola Shabi, said there was an urgent need to sustain an eco-friendly environment and encourage self-regulatory and voluntary compliance of motorists to the environmental thrust of the state. She noted that the campaign was continuous and that major parks identified for noise making would be visited and enlightened accordingly.
Even as we commend the effort of LASEPA, we have advice for the success of this 6th campaign. If there have been five editions with less visible impact, we must warn that the agency must adopt more enduring and implementable policies and strategies because Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) and other specialist doctors keep warning about the health issues Lagosians and most other Nigerians face as a result of unchecked noise pollution from voices, music, generators, outdated and underserviced cars, commercial motorcycles and tricycles (locally referred to as Okada and Keke), motor parks, churches and mosques, event centres, marketers, pubs and other groups of people that pollute the environment with noise.
If we all believe that governments are meant to ensure the welfare of citizens, we equally believe that efforts must be made to save the people from themselves. This must be done as Lagos is globally seen as one of the noisiest and most chaotic cities in the world. That image must be corrected not only for the optics of it but for the health of the citizens, especially with the current COVID-19 pandemic.
We know that any determined government can achieve in certain sectors. The control of noise pollution does not need too much money or expertise. It just needs a determined LASEPA working with sister agencies to succeed. There must be a pervasive media campaign to enlighten the people about the serious impact of noise pollution because many have been socialised to see noise as normal in our culture and it is not true.
The pollution from generators comes with air pollution too. The state government can decide to promote more of alternative energy sources like solar if the Federal Government cannot guarantee steady power supply by making the investors in that sector play by the rules and supply 24-hour electricity. We equally believe that there are laws that if implemented can check the level of noise pollution in Lagos. The government must strictly enforce those laws urgently.
Noise from religious houses, transportation sector and events and recreation centres contributes to major noise pollution in Lagos. LASEPA knows what to do but it needs the will power to do so. Former Governor Raji Fashola was hands on in enforcing some of these human-induced lawlessness, which means that it is possible. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu wants to advance it to a high level, and we encourage him.
It is pertinent to mention that noise pollution is not peculiar to Lagos. It is a national problem.
The state government might also consider bringing back the No Horn Day in which hooting would be minimal if not absolutely abstained from by motorists in Lagos. This is because of its remarkable success when it was introduced by the Fashola administration.
Moreover, working with some telecom companies that could supply toll-free lines to report cases of noise pollution to the agency would do some magic. Lagosians are exhausted by the amount of noise generated through impunity by individuals and groups because there is seemingly no penalty for such irresponsible behavior. Hence the state government is stepping in. The rising cases of stress, depression and high blood pressure cannot be totally divorced from the amount of noise in the environment. Strict application of laws can help. Everyone is a victim.