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Deputy Speaker: Night prayers not a problem, shouting is the issue

By Paul W Dennis

KAMPALA – Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah has while preceding over a parliamentary session on Wednesday cautioned against what he called excessive noise during night prayers in Churches.

Oulanyah’s statement came following remarks by legislators who called for amendments in the National Environment Bill, 2017 which seeks to repeal and replace the National Environment Act to make it conform with the existing government policies.

Hon John Byabagambi, the Cabinet Minister for Karamoja Affairs said people “who shout the whole night in the name of prayer” pollute the environment.

“They make noise for those who are supposed to be resting. They should be controlled as they pollute the environment,” the Minister said.

Speaker Oulanyah while responding to Byabagambi’s remarks said that prayer is not the problem but shouting is the issue.

“The focus is on noise and any form of noise that disturbs the peace… the only thing is there must be a complainant,” Oulanyah said.

Clause 105 of the National Environment Bill, 2015 provides for standards for the control of effects of vibration and pollution caused by noise. The committee proposed taking measurement of the levels of noise emanating from all sources.

They urged that the new Bill should prescribe minimum standards for noise and vibration; and that authorities should issue guidelines for the abatement of unreasonable noise and vibration.

Last week, a city hotel sued a Born-Again church in Mbuya, Kampala, for allegedly holding “noisy prayer sessions and sermons” which the hotel owners claimed have turned away their prospective customers who seek alternative accommodation in other quiet hotels.

According to a local news daily, Duomo Hotel & Apartments sued Pastor John Ssali Lulenti and his church, Jubilee Christian Life Church in the Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala.

Pastor Lulenti was according to sources jointly sued with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and Nakawa Division for failing in their mandate to prevail over the church to stop the noise.

This legal battle is one of several that have made headlines in the country, the other being of authorities in Mbale who in October  this year resolved to start closing Born-again Churches that violate the district noise ordinance.

Further more, churches 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.

Elsewhere in Parliament, the National Environment Bill, 2017 provides for the management of plastics and plastic products and establishment of the Environmental Protection Force among others.

It also outlaws dumping of e-wastes such as phones, refrigerators or computers in landfills or unauthorised places.

“If e-equipment is sold or delivered through a channel outside of the shop premises, including by mail order or via the internet, the product steward shall establish an effective system for the return of similar quantities of e-waste or more, if there is extra capacity to do so, for same product ranges and having the same functions as the products sold or distributed by the product steward,” the Bill adds.

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