There is a new type of commercial noise nuisance associated with mobile vendors in Region Six, especially in the Central and Upper Corentyne areas. It seems to me that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) members are turning deaf ears to the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations with regard to noise nuisance, since it has become a sore area which is allowed to fester with no solution in sight. The GPF seems to wilfully give the false impression to residents that this is the job for the NDC or the municipalities.
Noise pollution refers to sound that goes beyond the accepted decibels level which may disturb or harm human or animal life. Sound is measured in decibels with one decibel being the faintest sound which the human ear can hear, but when it disturbs our normal activities such as working, sleeping or conversing then it is not acceptable, and long-term exposure to noise can have serious effects on our mental and physical well-being. The EPA has made it clear that, “people are becoming more sensitive to issues relating to noise pollution, particularly households that have elderly citizens and newborns”.
In the Central and Upper Corentyne areas the elderly, the newborn, the sick, students, night-shift workers, housewives and nearly everyone is seriously affected by the daily dosage of noise nuisance emanating from the ‘loud speaker’ mobile vendors and advertisers who traverse up and down and into every nook and cranny blaring and jarring the senses of residents. Babies can be heard screaming during the day as mothers try in vain to calm them. This daily dosage can be up to a minimum of 16 times per day. They sell and advertise a varied assortment of goods and services.
Everything sells from the cradle to the grave, and it seems that these noises will send some residents to their graves prematurely or to the mental asylum. Some of these services and goods are death announcements, pharmaceuticals, bread and pastries, travel services, visa services, construction materials, old iron and batteries, foods, groceries, BBQs, religious functions, sports events and astrology and miracle services, and even deals on funerals.
It is puzzling that even though Region six has six local television stations which can be utilized to advertise these services, they are not used. These operators know that they can break the law with impunity by paying bribes, and yet still maintain low operating costs while making huge profits.
In addition, many legitimate business owners are complaining that they are paying taxes and insurance and these tax-free mobile announcers and vendors are taking away a huge chunk of their business. Moreover, it seems that these mobile vendors and announcers, who are using in excess of 1200 watts amplifiers are not even aware of the EPA regulations much less that they should acquire the necessary permission.
The Minister of Public Security and the B Division Commander have to enforce the EPA rules and regulations. They have the responsibility to control and manage these sound emissions by setting the permissible levels for activities such as entertainment, transportation, construction, commercial and other activities. The regulations clearly stipulate that persons who are engaged in the above-mentioned activities need to apply for Environmental Authorization so that the EPA can monitor their activities. The regulations seek to protect citizens from excessive noise whatever the source. It is an offence to cause loud noise in any building, private premises or vehicle and defaulters can be fined $750,000 or face up to one year imprisonment, if found guilty. Anyone affected by noisy operations can lodge a complaint with the EPA. The accepted decibel for residential areas in the day is 75dB while in the night it is 60dB. Vehicle owners who play loud music are charged and their music sets and speakers confiscated, but these advertisers and announcers breach the law and get off because they know whose palm to grease.
I am a nurse who is seriously affected by this new type of noise nuisance and there are thousands of others who are affected but know no one who will address this growing problem. Therefore, I am calling on the EPA and the Public Security Minister along with the ‘B’ Division Commander to address this new epidemic before it’s too late.