Rwanda: Business owners react to new noise pollution guidelines

Rwanda: Business owners react to new noise pollution guidelines

A local artiste during a performance in one of pubs in Kigali.Craish Bahizi

Moise M. Bahati

In response to the newly introduced new noise pollution guidelines, business owners, who have long decried the absence of clear standards, have expressed their support for the government’s move to have well-stipulated standards in place.

The Ministry of Environment unveiled the new noise pollution guidelines on Wednesday, which provide explicit decibel thresholds for various public spaces, including hotels, bars, nightclubs, and churches. The guidelines establish safe sound levels for different locations and times of the day, using decibels (dB) as the standard unit of measurement.

“At least the standards are clear now, and even the business owners will be able to set their activities in accordance with the guidelines,” said Tania Gakuba, proprietor of the Gishushu-based Tania’s Cuisine and Lounge. “Before, if someone complained about noise, an event could be canceled immediately without any measurements whatsoever.”

“We have sound level meters at our restaurant and the sound level rarely exceeds 50 decibels. During weekends we host live bands and DJs. We will now measure the sound of our weekend events and see how we can adjust,” she said.

According to the guidelines, the sound level in residential areas should not exceed 55 dB during daytime and 45 dB during nighttime. In commercial areas, it should not exceed 65 dB during daytime and 55 dB during night-time.

In industrial areas, the sound level should not exceed 75 dB during daytime and 70 dB during night-time. In quiet zones, which include areas near health facilities, schools, libraries, courthouses, and public offices, the sound level should not exceed 50 dB during daytime and 40 dB during night-time.

“In principle, clear guidelines are meant to be enforced in the same way all across the industry,” said Adam Nsubuga, the manager of Voltage Nightclub.

“Regulators would sometimes penalise nightclubs for noise pollution and if you went to a certain bar or one of the lounges in town, you were stricken by the same loud music from similar equipment. So, with the new guidelines, everyone will be able to measure the volume of the sound and if they exceed the set levels, they can be penalised,” Nsubuga noted.

In entertainment buildings or nightclubs, a sound level of 85 dB permits individuals to spend up to eight hours inside.

However, if the sound level reaches 88 dB, the recommended duration of exposure is reduced to four hours. If the sound level exceeds 91 dB, the recommended maximum duration further decreases to two hours.

Similarly, in bars or restaurants, a sound level of 85 dB allows for up to eight hours of stay, while 88 dB reduces the recommended duration to four hours.

“For effective enforcement of the new guidelines, all stakeholders should be involved. There should be a specific organ in charge of enforcing the regulations,” Bruce Intore, an event organiser.

Previously, he said, local sector administration, city authorities, or the police could penalise a business operator, which meant the lack of a person mandated to regulate and handle issues related to noise pollution.

Source The New Times.

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