The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a recommended noise meters which is to be acquired by the various District, Municipal and Metropolitan Assemblies (MMDA’s) to assess noise or sound levels.
In Ghana, the EPA has pegged permissible ambient noise levels in residential areas at 55 decibels (dB) during the day and 48 dB at night, for educational and health facilities it's 55 dB during the day and 50 dB at night, while the noise level for areas with commercial or light industrial activities has been 60 dB and 55 dB during the day and night respectively.
To be able to confirm the breach of these permissible ambient noise level, the assigned agencies or institutions need noise meters but the price of the meters seem to be discouraging many MMDA’s to fully deal with the menace of noise pollution, enabling the polluters to go scot-free in most cases.
At a recently held stakeholder meeting convened by the environmental group, Eco-Conscious Citizens (ECC), with focus on dealing with noise pollution, the high prices of noise meters recommended by the EPA came up strongly for discussion by participants.
It was agreed that, the prices of noise meters being recommended by the EPA are high and discouraged most MMDA’s in acquiring them to deal with the rising cases of noise pollution in the country.
Participants therefore called for a comparative test to be made between the noise meters recommended by the EPA, which costs thousands of US dollars and outside the budget of many MMDAs, and that of sound meter apps downloadable from the internet or accessibly-priced physical noise meters. It was also suggested that, the Ghana Standard Authority can be the best arbiter in ensuring that, moderate prices of noise meters are acquired to help deal with the issue of noise pollution which is becoming a health hazard.
The Founder and Coordinator of ECC, Awula Serwah said at the stakeholders meeting that, the issue of noise pollution has gone from bad to worse, and is a health emergency. She noted that, Accra is noisy and the decibel levels often exceed the EPA's permissible levels.
“Dawn preachers, Muslim call to worship, Churches, drinking spots, borla or refuse collectors, sellers using vehicles with loudspeakers, promotions all compete to rob us of peace and quiet and damage our health. Unfortunately, some religious organisations who should be setting a good example are some of the worst offenders alongside drinking spots and night clubs. Our authorities have let us down in the way areas are re-zoned so that we have for example, event centres in residential areas without any attempt to monitor sound levels”, she said.
According to the Founder of ECC, lack of enforcement of the laws and bye-laws on noise is a challenge.
She therefore called for strict enforcement of laws and bye-laws on noise, ensuring that Churches that use loudspeakers are sound proof, noise teams working outside working hours, and removal of loudspeakers from all vehicles that do not deliver public messages such as health messages.
For his part, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Odododiodio, Mr Nii Lantey Vanderpuye said, the law is no respecter of persons and there are legal regimes that prohibit noise. He however identified enforcement as the main challenge to deal with noise pollution.
He has therefore urged members of the ECC to promote advocacy programmes geared towards enforcement of the law by the responsible agencies. He also assured to play a role to advance the good cause of the ECC.
Renowned Surgeon and Poet, Prof Lade Wosornu made mentioned of the dangers associated with noise pollution including sudden death. He also read a poem at the meeting titled Povertometer, portions of which reads “We have not ocean’s booming restlessness nor forest’s crowded but pristine vastness to tame. Yet, across one oleander or muddy turf, where foot-paths meander We blast ears with colossal howls and screams. We waste vocal energy like sun beams. We wreck the peace in neighbourhoods”.