NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 9 – Environment Minister John Michuki maintained on Wednesday that the new noise pollution regulations would remain in place despite a strike by some matatu (Public Service Vehicles) operators opposing the rules.
Mr Michuki insisted that the new regulations were put in place to safeguard the health of Kenyans and nobody would be allowed to make noise that went beyond 30 metres.
“Science, not Michuki has shown that excessive noise is harmful. Any sound beyond 60 decibels is noise and is classified as annoying if it is 70 decibels and above,” the Environment Minister said.
The laws which prohibit use of sound amplifying devices which cause excessive vibration were gazetted in April and came into effect in October. They mainly affect matatu operators, entertainment joints, street preachers and some other churches that use sound amplifying devices.
Some churches have since gone to court to challenge the new regulations saying they were misplaced.
However the Minister said failure to comply would attract a fine of Sh350,000 or up to 18 months imprisonment.
“The noise and excessive vibration regulations give acceptable noise levels as those between 35 and 60 decibels. They are the simplest regulations to comply with as they only require turning down the volume to reasonable levels, they do not prevent anything except that annoying noise,” he said.
Meanwhile, the United Nations honoured the Minister for his role in environmental conservation and especially in the ongoing clean up of the Nairobi River.
The Minister received an award from the Basel convention, an international treaty addressing cleaner production, hazardous waste minimisation and controls on the movement of these wastes.
While presenting the award to the Minister, United Nations Environment Programme Director of Environment Law and Convention Kante Bakary said the UN was monitoring leaders who made policies that would improve the future generation and for the improvement of the global environment.
“And honourable John Michuki is among those few people whom we have identified as not only a leader but someone who has a vision or prospective. Today the world is characterised by leaders who are simply busy with short term ambitions and here we have someone who goes beyond the short term vision,” he said.
The Minister on the other hand said he would not rest until the whole river was clean.
He said so far Sh250 million had been spent in the first phase of the clean up that was estimated to cost Sh16 billion over a period of three years.
“The objective will be realised through the extent to which there will be stress reduction to the rivers and stimulation of the economic growth at the targeted communities,” the Minister said.
He said that progress had been made in closing illegal discharge points that flowed into the river. He said out of the 367 illegal discharge points identified, over 30 percent of them had been repaired or the effluent stopped.