The Harare City Council is set to take necessary action on churches located in the residential areas in a bid to curb noise pollution.
A number of churches in the residential areas have been blamed for causing noise especially during the evening with some residents appealing to the local authority to deal with noise pollution.
According to minutes from the latest full council meeting, The Finance and Development Committee resolved to deal with the issue and tasked the Director of Works to take necessary action on churches making noise in the suburbs.
“Arising from the discussion on approval of open market valuation of a church stand, the committee expressed the need for the Director of Works to take necessary action to control such noise in residential areas ad report to the Environmental Management Committee,” read the minutes.
There is no tangible law enforcement as far as noise pollution is concerned in the country.
Environmental Management Agency (EMA) once said offenders will be paying fines of up to $5 000 or going to jail for a maximum of one year for disturbing neighbors through noise like playing music at high volume.
But the maximum fine has been $20 payable to the police.
EMA is working on a Statutory Instrument that will allow the agency to enforce section 79 to 81 of the Environmental Management Act [Chapter 20:27].
The sections provide for fines ranging from level 1 which is $20 to 14 which is $5 000, and or up to one year in prison for “exceeding noise standards” set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) at both residential and industrial areas.
WHO stipulates that noise should not exceed 55 decibels during the day and should be less than 35 dB (a radio played at moderate volume) at night in residential areas.
Meanwhile residents have blasted HCC for not taking Christians seriously.
Harare Residents Trust spokesperson Precious Shumba said despite some residents expressing concerns over increased numbers of churches within residential areas, council need to deal with the matter professionally.
“What is their definition of noise? The City of Harare must deal first with its planning, monitoring and evaluation systems to reflect citizens’ actual needs. The tragedy of Harare is that everything is adhoc managed, meaning their approach is reactionary instead of being proactive.
“The Christians gathering to worship the true living God must not be harassed and abused by council officials who believe that their own churches are more superior to the community churches. It is however very true that some residents have expressed concerns about the increasing number of churches within residential areas. A harmonised approach is required to resolve this situation, by bringing together Councillors, council officials and Church leaders and find a lasting solution,” said Shumba.