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Churches in Mbale found guilty of noise pollution to lose license

Christians join hands in prayer at At Christ Light Church Mbale, Uganda in December 2017.  PHOTO | Magomu Eddison

By Paul W Dennis

MBALE – Authorities in Mbale have resolved to start closing Born-again Churches that violate the district noise ordinance.

Further more, those unwilling to abide by the regulation will be denied a licence to operate. This is according to the deputy town clerk of Mbale Municipality Mr Kenneth Waniaye Khatuli who told media they will monitor noise decibel levels and make a determination if there is a violation.

Mr Waniaye said this initiative came after complaints from residents of  “noisy late-night prayers” by the churches.

“We are going to start closing them and our operation will continue to make sure we do not have noise in the town and its suburbs. They must play music at low levels,” Mr Waniaye said, according to a local news daily.

These policies and more were tabled before the assistant town clerk for Wanale Division, in a September 13 letter authored by Mr Khatuli.

According to the Daily Monitor, Mr Khatuli asserted that people residing near the born-again churches and bars cannot sleep at night because of the noise emitted from such places.

“Such places disturb public peace with noise from their loud speakers,” he said.

He explained that owners of churches and bars have been warned on several occasions but they have failed to adhere to the guidelines issued.

“The clubs play trans-night music at high sound levels about 50dB (A) leq. This is illegal under the environment Act,” the letter reads in part.

The mayor, Mr Muhammad Zandya, urged religious leaders and managers of clubs to heed the advice.

“As council, we decided to take action against such places because noise pollution disturbs the peace of people. Noise standards and control regulations, limit noise in residential areas to 65 decibels (dB) during the day and 45 dB at night but they are doing the contrary,” he told the Daily Monitor.

However, Ms Teddy Namono, a born-again Christian, said the churches should be given grace period to implement the directive.

“Closing churches or happening places that do not meet minimum standards is not a solution. We ask the council to give us enough time to implement these directives,” she said.

Ms Juliet Nambozo, who operates a bar in Mbale Town, faulted the municipal council for granting licences to people who start schools and clinics in areas already congested by bars and night clubs.

“This has become difficult for us to differentiate between residential and commercial areas,” Ms Nambozo said.

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