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Thursday, August 27, 2015

WAR AGAINST NOISE MAKING: LAGOS STATE SHUTS DOWN 22 CHURCHES, MOSQUES, CLUB, OTHERS


In line with its ongoing war on noise and environmental pollution, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) yesterday shut 22 religious houses, pharmaceutical companies and others.
This was as the government said it had received 700 petitions over noise pollution across the state in the last two weeks. It was learnt that LASEPA gets over 50 phone calls and 20 text messages from concerned citizens to complain about noise pollution mostly from religious houses and firms on a daily basis.
Also shut yesterday were strip clubs located at Ogba for noise pollution while pharmaceutical companies were shut for discharging effluent into the public drains, which the agency said could lead to the spread of cancer.
Speaking after closure of the 22 buildings yesterday, the LASEPA General Manager, Mr Ademola Shabi, said the government needed to take drastic steps to regulate the growing religious buildings in the state. He said that if care was not taken, the government would no longer be able to control noise pollution in the next five years. Shabi added that it was disappointing that some of the shut religious houses went back to their old ways after reopening. According to him, the offenders will begin to pay fines ranging from N50,000 to N100,000 before their premises are reopened in addition to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.
He said: “With the enforcement today, we would have sealed about 55 premises because the last enforcement we carried out, we shut 33 premises. I gave approval for closure of 22 premises today, making 55.” According to him, Lagos has over 6,000 religious houses, with more springing up on a daily basis. The situation, Shabi said, called for urgent need for regulation by the government, if the state did not want to lose the war on noise pollution.
He said: “With the volume of petitions we are receiving on our website, we have to collapse two departments in our agency to treat the complaints. On my phone alone, I get 20 SMS on a daily basis. In the next five years, if there is no stringent policy on the sighting of religious houses, there will be problem. I think the unemployment in the country is contributing to the problem.” Among the shut religious centres is Jesus Our Lord Divine Catholic Prayer Ministry on 11 Anuoluwapo Street, Ilasamaja, where prayer session was ongoing about 11am.
Except for the pastor, all the worshipers are pregnant women, nursing mothers and their children. The residents complained over noise pollution and lack of clarity on activities carried out at the centre.
At Thomas Salako Street, Ogba, a strip club/hotel, popularly known as Shakara Bar, was closed in violation of noise pollution and illegal siting. Shabi said the popular strip club would never be reopened again. He added that all his directives to control noise pollution in the last two years had never been complied with.
According to Shabi, Ogba, being a mixed residential and industrial area, should have a decibel not exceeding 55 at night. He said: “The noise coming from Shakara is more than 100 decibel. And anyone exposed to 115 decibel of noise for about six hours will automatically go deaf. That is the kind of risk Shakara poses to the area.”

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