Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Horn-Free-Day: Mixed feelings as Lagos moves to tackle noise pollution

Mixed feelings have continued to trail efforts of the Lagos State Government to tackle the menace of noise pollution in the metropolis, whose population is put at 21 million. While speaking last Thursday, at the First Lagos Drivers’ Appreciation Day, a programme organised by the state‘s Ministry of Transportation, at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry House, Alausa, Ikeja, to sensitise drivers on the maiden horn-free day slated for tomorrow, the state governor, Babatunde Fashola called on residents, particularly, motorists to desist from activities capable of generating needless noise in the state, saying a noiseless society is possible. At the occasion, where no fewer than 25 distinguished professional drivers were rewarded for obeying traffic regulations, Fashola had affirmed that noise pollution can be reduced in the state, if residents collaborate with government just as they did in the containment of Ebola Virus Disease, EVD. As typical of various Lagos metropolis and suburbs from the Island to the Mainland, such as Apapa, Ikeja, Alagbado, Iyana-Iba, Alabarago, Okokomaiko, Ajegunle, Ojuelegba, Mushin, Oshodi, Ikotun, Iyana-Ipaja, Ojota, Ketu, Mile 12, Mile 2, CMS, Igando among others, the blaring horns from vehicles, tricycles and motorcycles is usually so deafening to behold. A recent research by the National Research Centre states that noise levels produced in different sources at different times of the day are well over the level set by the Environmental Protection Agency and that noise pollution do contribute to many health problems. Thus, environmental experts put harmful noise level at 70 decibels and above, while the global standard for measuring noise puts 90 decibels as rather too high and harmful to human health. Against this backdrop, the state government instituted “a day without horn in the state.” Tomorrow, it is expected that motorists, especially commercial bus drivers, sirens from emergency vehicles such as ambulances, police escorts among others are expected to limit the use of their vehicle horn as sparingly as possible. LASG’s preparedness In preparedness, the state’s Ministry of Transportation and all affiliated agencies, the Drivers’ Institutes, the Transport and the Law Enforcement Institutes, with about 3,000 men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, are expected to implement as well as monitor and ensure maximum compliance by motorists on the day. The governor said: “This initiative is for our own good, it is for our own health, it is for our own life. It is not because Governor Fashola said so. It is not because Lagos State Government said so. It is simply because it is good for us. Doctors have told us it is for our own ultimate good. “What we see in a way that we now choose to live is that because we live in a very noisy environment, which we can really diminish, we tend to be very noisy ourselves. We speak at the top of our voices, we play music at very high decibels and we do very many things at very high levels.” According to him, the campaign against noise pollution was a response to the petitions and complaints of “citizens and tax payers who, on daily basis, write and petition us that somebody is preventing them from sleep either from the noise they are making or from other uncharitable activities they are carrying on without regard for the wellbeing of their neighbours.” Fashola said in some other parts of the world, one could spend days on their roads and would not hear any noise from the horn. He further recalled, “Occasionally, when you hear a siren you know something has gone wrong in that system; you know that either an ambulance is on its way to an emergency or firemen are on their way to a fire or policemen are tracking and chasing criminals; and I said why should we be different, are we not Nigerians?. “Reduction in noise pollution would clearly bring about better life, a healthier life and a more prosperous life. If you and I make the commitment to do something positive in order to reduce noise, clearly you and I will benefit.” Similarly, in her lecture titled, “Noise Pollution Is Too Serious To Be Ignored,” the guest lecturer, at the event, Dr. Kubie Layeni-Adeyemo, described noise as an unwanted sound, noting that if it is not below 70 decibels, it is like spending a day in a factory full of noise. She cited such noise to include those from generators, aircraft, and even dogs, stressing that noise pollution contributes to many health problems. According to her, such health problems caused by noise pollution include “partial or permanent deafness, loss of concentration, nervous breakdown and other physical and psychological problems. Noise pollution is excessive noise which may harm our activity or balance of human or even animal life.” On his part, the state commissioner for transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, assured residents that Lagos drivers have been mobilized for the day, adding that all the motor parks in the state are wearing banners put up by the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and other stakeholder unions, even as contact had also been made with drivers’ employers within and outside the state for the occasion. Opeifa, who said the Drivers’ Appreciation Day programme is initiated to celebrate those drivers who have contributed to safe driving habits on the roads, however said that government would not sanction any driver for honking on the horn-free day. This is even as he stated that the state government’s desire to promote safety on the road, made it set up the Lagos State Drivers Institute in 2009 to retrain, re-certify drivers and correct the deficiencies identified in their drivers’ behaviours. Mixed feelings However, despite this assurances, when Vanguard visited parts of the state’s metropolis, commercial bus drivers, tricyclists and motorcyclists, who spoke to us, gave several reasons they make use of their automobile horns while driving. While some said they blare their horns to draw the attention of other road users to steer clear their right of way, others said they blare their horns to call-in passengers into their vehicles. This is even as a few others said they blare their horns to call the attention of friends for greetings, as they drive. Also, while some drivers said they were aware of the horn-free day, as their unions have sensitised them about it, others however feigned ignorance of the day, adding that it was difficult not to honk or blare the horns of their vehicles considering the congested nature of the state. Why we honk our horns-Drivers Lukman Akinlawal, a driver who plies the Apapa- Ojuelegba route, who stated that he was unaware of the horn-free day said: “I am just getting the information from you now. Though, I have not seen any of the Lagos State officials coming to our garage to sensitise us about this day. ‘’I make use of my horn because most Lagosians are usually absent-minded while on the road, especially because of the myriads of personal and family problems they are faced with. For instance, I had hit a passer-by some time ago, who just jumped into the road without looking carefully. It took the man four days in the hospital before he could remember where he was. According to the man, the only thing he could remember was that he alighted from a commercial bus and just walked into the busy expressway.’’ Another driver, Adebayo Adesokan, who plies the Ajegunle-Ojuelegba route said: “Our National Union in Ajegunle gave us circulars yesterday (Thursday) to intimate us of the October 15 horn-free day. I honk my vehicle horn at occasions when some of my colleagues who are bus drivers carelessly pick and disembark passengers on the road. So, I use my vehicle horn to call their attention to steer clear off the road.’’ Olamilekan Ahmed, who plies the Ojuelegba-Ojota route said he was aware of the day. He said: “I am aware of the day. I had already disconnected my vehicle horn last week, because I thought it was last Wednesday that the horn-free day was to be observed. However, considering the congested nature of Lagos, it is near impossible for drivers not to use their vehicle horns while driving. Like yesterday, just along the Ikorodu road, a young man was just walking aimlessly on the busy road. Despite my blaring of horn, the young man couldn’t still leave the road. It took the intervention of a soldier inside the my bus, who tapped him on the back, before he left the road. The vehicle horn is very important that it can never be relegated to the background. But let us try it first on October 15, to see how it will work.” A driver who plies the Ketu-Ojota route, but pleaded anonymity lashed at the his colleagues who are drivers saying, “The horn-free day can’t happen here in Lagos. For example how will it be enforced on all these boys (drivers) that run the Ketu-Ojota routes without clothes but just singlet. Those boys just see their horns as a toy, so they will never obey that day. For me, observing the day will be possible because I don’t have horn, I only use my lights to call the attention of other drivers obstructing my right of way.” However, Oluwaseyi Faro, a tricyclist who plies the Yaba route said he was not aware of the day but noted that it was impossible for him not to use his tricycle horn while driving. His words: “I have not heard about the horn-free day, our union has not informed me. However, I honk my tricycle horn to draw the attention of other road users obstructing my right of way. So, government wants me to kill and inflict injuries on pedestrians, who walk aimlessly into the road. Infact, I am going to use my horn always. That directive is not for me. Lagos is too congested to observe this kind of regulation.” @Last├čornNews(07060428346)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Ur comments is needed.THKS