Kenya noise polluters put on notice

April 8, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, April 8- Noisy street preachers, industries and motorists who contribute to noise pollution now risk hefty penalties when a new environmental law comes into force later this year.

Environment Minister John Michuki said on Wednesday that the noise and excessive vibration pollution and the Air Quality Regulation had been put in place to protect Kenyans’ health.

Mr Michuki said the laws come into effect in October and failure to comply would attract a fine of Sh350, 000 or up to 18 months imprisonment.

“Institutions will be treated differently; for example a sports stadium where people’s noise travels more than 30 metres, they will be allowed. What we shall not have is preachers on the streets; we will not have touts shouting everything beyond 30 metres (sic),” he said.

“Local authorities and NEMA (National Environmental Management Authority) will specify noise-free areas,” he added.

The Minister however said the laws would be implemented through negotiations to allow permissible noise levels.

“I am sure you have been to places where you may find other attractions but the noise itself sends you away. We have had even levels of vibration which have shattered houses in this city (Nairobi). That is the kind of thing that we must prevent and they (laws) will have to be complied with because this is the movement forward.”

The new regulations are meant to protect human health and the environment from the ill effects of noise and vibrations. The regulations also include control of noise from parties and social events, loud and unusual sound from motor vehicles, excessive vibration from construction, fireworks, demolitions, mining or quarry sites.

They state the maximum permissible noise levels in silent zones such as health and education facilities, and residential areas.

“Persons involved in activities that generate noise and excessive vibrations or owners of facilities that have sound amplifying devices will be expected to control their noise levels in line with the provisions of these regulations,” the laws state. 

At the same time, the Minister accused the Water Ministry of failing to repair sewerage systems despite being allocated millions of shillings to facilitate repair of broken sewer systems.

Mr Michuki said the department of water and sewerage had failed to repair a major sewer breakdown near the Machakos country bus station in downtown Nairobi which was derailing efforts to rehabilitate the Nairobi River.

“And I telephone there every day to ask whether the repairs have been done and people tell me they can still see human waste getting into the river. When I was in the Treasury, I authorised Sh50 million to be given to the water and sewerage department to facilitate the repairs of these discharges so that we can clean the river. Where did the money go?”

The Minister said discharge from this broken sewer was now almost 50 percent of the water there.

He however said his Ministry had accomplished the rehabilitation of the river up to the globe cinema round about.

“Right now there are teams of people under the Kazi kwa Vijana program who are removing solid waste from the river. The reason why we are cleaning other estates even before we do it in the river is because when the rains come, even if we have cleaned the river and removed the solid waste, it will sweep solid waste from the estates into the river,” he explained.

Last year the government embarked on an ambitious plan to clean up the Nairobi River at an estimated cost of Sh16 billion over a period of three years.



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