The Environment Management and Coordination Act, (EMCA) 2009, on noise pollution and excessive vibration control is an attempt in support of a healthy and serene ecosystem for the psychological wellness of the citizenry.
It provides for a noise emission that is reasonable, compelling, non-irritant, orderly, taking care not to hurt the serene coexistence between humans and nature.
Noise emission licensing is a prerogative of county authorities. However, the absence of minimum standards and conditions governing the licensing procedures brings forth laxity on follow-up and inadequacy of enforcement mechanisms.
It seems the so-called licensing by the county authorities is a blanket sanction for the emission of as much noise as practically possible by the emitting entity. Walking through any commercial centre across the country, it is apparent that the majority of electronic shops, outdoor advertisers, public service vehicles, motorbikes, and entertainment joints, among others are notorious for violating regulations on noise pollution.
Further, breaches to rules and regulations governing noise pollution are aggravated by inaction and escapist tendencies of the enforcement agencies. To restore order and predictability in the management of public affairs, adherence to rules and regulations as witnessed during the leadership of the late Environment John Michuki is critical.
Since then, there has been a gradual erosion of those gains. The right to a clean and healthy environment is a provision under the bill of rights in our constitution.
Therefore, noise licensing should not negate or override enjoyment to this right directly or indirectly by another person at all times. The problem lies in weak enforcement mechanisms resulting in a lax regulatory framework.
In safeguarding the rights of a majority voiceless against persistent infringement on the enjoyment of the right to a clean and healthy environment, rules, procedures, and regulatory frameworks need to be reviewed. Constructive noise contributes to nation-building if managed well. If abused, it is the worst environmental nuisance. As such, those privileged and holding a platform for noise generation should do so in moderation, cautiously and courteously, not to abuse those privileges, or else relocate to designated zones under the physical planning guidelines away from the public provinces.
Again, noise licensing for business exploits, or public addresses should be conscious and considerate to the general public good, given no amount of infringement on another person's rights or nuisance or irritation effected on another person is compensable through levying.
A common practice of handling inescapable noise emissions that exceeds acceptable levels is through confining the polluting doers to designated zones away from areas of public interest, probably the concept behind the establishment of industrial zones.
Bottom-line, lets noise levying not be a blank cheque for contravening individuals' entitlement to a clean and healthy environment.
Moreover, the sanctioning officials ought to do due diligence on noise assessment, emission levels, and eventual licensing as provided for under the EMCA No 6 2009.
Kiragu Kariuki Nyeri