Letters to the Editor

Outrageous suggestion to rethink night noise law

Friday, November 02, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

I refer to the Jamaica Observer story of October 31, "Commissioner suggests rethink of Noise Abatement Act". I believe the commissioner's efforts to change the Noise Abatement Act so people who live off night noise can "nyam more food" is misguided. It is also extremely offensive to the vast majority of Jamaican citizens who regularly endure the harmful effects of sustained night noise that results from blatant breaches of the Noise Abatement Act that he and his team of officers fail to enforce effectively .

As most Jamaicans already know, and Police Commissioner Owen Ellington ought to know, for years now sound system operators and others blast nerve-jangling night noises whenever they please into homes, businesses, schools - everywhere - with utter disregard for the rights and welfare of citizens. Even when citizens all over Jamaica complain to Commissioner Ellington's own police officers, they continue to suffer because the police fail to intervene effectively.

Police Commissioner Ellington's vigorous lobby on behalf of night noise perpetrators does nothing to dispel widespread suspicion that night noise perpetrators persist in their abusive behaviour because of corruption, that is, citizens everywhere believe that the perpetrators pay off the police and this is why the police ignore complaints about night noise nuisance.

With his direct appeal on behalf of night noise perpetrators, what message is Police Commissioner Ellington sending to his own police officers on whom citizens depend to protect their rights? After all, excessive night noise violates the law and the right of citizens to peace and quiet in their own homes.

For example, residents of my community are fed up with the regular doses of lewd, vulgar, misogynistic content with which night noise perpetrators pollute the environment, denigrating women and children at any time of day or night. This sometimes continues non-stop from early Friday evening through Saturday to late Sunday morning, despite numerous complaints to the police who ignore their pleas and allow the sound system operators to continue without interruption.

What about the rights of poor people who live in dense, inner-city communities and villages and who have to endure the constant loudness and vulgarity? What happens to the poor children who want to sleep or study but who have to put up with the endless noise pollution with no redress, no proper police intervention on their behalf?

Surely Commissioner Ellington knows that excessive night noise is not just an annoyance - it seriously harms people's health. It interferes with daily activities at school, at work, at home and during leisure time. Night noise regularly disturbs people's sleep, intrudes into people's private lives inside our homes, causing cardiovascular and psychophysiological effects, reducing people's ability to perform normal functions. It also provokes angry, even violent responses, and it affects people's social behaviour negatively.

Sustained night noise may be among the factors that contribute to widespread dysfunction that is evidenced all over Jamaica among far too many citizens. In other words, night noise is making Jamaicans sick; it is killing Jamaicans.

It is Police Commissioner Owen Ellington's duty to develop and manage an effective strategy to end night noise pollution.

Lobbying to add night noise to the landscape cannot be among Police Commissioner Ellington's priorities.

David Mahfood

dmahfood@rocketmail.com

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