There are many problems the country is facing. The economic situation is a major one. Government has plans to resolve the situation. Substantial loans and credits have been secured from the Japanese government. There are plans for establishing industries in every district.
It is the duty of the institutions of state and THE PUBLIC to ensure that the monies borrowed on our behalf are used for the purpose for which they were secured and that corruption is exposed and ruthlessly dealt with.
However, there are other issues which should engage the serious attention of the public. We talk about them but do little to deal with them. A major one is the environment. Many are dying because of unnecessary filth and bad housing. Many suffer from unbearable noise. We can deal with the filth by applying the law as was done in colonial days. Those who kept their houses and drains unclean and bred mosquitoes were taken to court and fined irrespective of status. Governments have tried to enforce sanitation and good order on the roads but were frightened by some party supporters to stop otherwise the people would not vote for them. But the duty of a government is to rule and promote good order in society. If it has not got the backbone to do this it should leave the scene for a robust administration.
While we deal with the major issues, we should also address simpler problems which impinge adversely on life. Noise is one of them. Excessive noise is an environmental hazard. Our simple folk knew how to deal with it. When I lived in the village during school holidays, noise was banned after about 7.30pm. There were merry-making and drumming on festive occasions after this time. But generally the people were allowed adequate sleep and woke up early to go to the farm to do some work before the scorching rays of the sun decreed rest.
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The village practice was enshrined in our laws and these are still valid. There should be no noise between 10pm and 6am. People should be allowed to sleep. Those who want to keep late hours should ensure that their noise does not disturb those who sleep. This law should be rigorously enforced. All the laws on the environment will not achieve much if people do not sleep well. We talk a lot about productivity, but people cannot give of their best if they do not have enough sleep. You need not be a great educationist to realise that young men and women in boarding schools are more alert in the morning than day students who do not get enough sleep because of noise and bad housing.
The laws of the land do not only deal with noise at night. Neighbours should not be disturbed by parties in the afternoon. For “good neighbourliness”, we do not complain when our neighbours disturb us with “ghetto blasters” in the afternoon. But this and other excessive noise incidents should be contained by the enforcement of the law.
There should be a “noise abatement” unit in every local authority or council. The Ministry of the Environment should support this. The unit should have officials who go round to ensure that there is no excessive noise. Those who make noise above permissive levels should be arrested, taken to court and fined if found guilty. The law should provide for the offending musical instruments to be seized on a second offence.
The noise problem should be faced even when churches and mosques are involved. Churches should ensure that they do not disturb the peace of those outside the church. The design and modern wall materials should facilitate this. The Muslim call to worship at 4am should not disturb the peace of the public. The call was, as was the Christian bell, appropriate when the people of the area were mainly Muslims or Christians.
Fortunately, we do not have to be reminded about time these days. Our mobile phones can do this for us. If the Muslim “crier” has to keep his job, he can earn his living by activating the mobile numbers of followers at 4am.
While on the application of the law, we may suggest that the Motor Traffic Unit (MTU) of the police should engage a special task force temporarily to deal with motor cyclists who ignore traffic signs. These temporary officers may be recruited and trained for the purpose. Members of the task force at traffic lights should take the numbers of motor cyclists who ignore traffic signs and inform their members in the area. They may even be assisted to take photographs of the motor cycle and the registration number. Offenders should be arraigned before court and fined heavily. The motor cycles should be seized if they cannot pay the fine.
It is certainly time to act to enforce the law and minimise the talking about the ills of society.