Anayo Chukwu Rochas Okorocha has just got reelected as governor of the South Eastern heartland of Imo state for another four year tenure. He has been in the saddle as governor since 2011.
In the last four years the performance of the Imo State governor is a subject of controversy when put side by side with the huge federally allocated cash that accrued to Imo State and also the internally generated revenue especially when it is a notorious fact that aside the capital city of Owerri that saw the construction of some badly built roads network which are now littered with potholes especially around the Concord Hotel segment, much of the other rural communities were practically abandoned.
There are hospital projects started by the government in all local government areas but half way through the project these have become abandoned projects for now. Most communities have on their own bought and installed transformers to electrify their areas and there's total absence of government in most local communities. Even primary and secondary educational facilities are total right off in most communities even with the so-called free education.
But the Imo State governor and the state legislature failed woefully to look into the growing environmental and health hazards constituted by noise and environmental pollution caused by wayward and lawless commercial and private drivers of the motley of nearly unserviceable vehicles that ply the heavily used but poorly built roads.
Environmental sanitation also took the back seat in the agenda implemented by the current Imo State administration in the first half of the administration of governor Okorocha. Major streets and markets even in Owerri are littered with assorted refuse dumps which in some cases are becoming mountainous especially around the market along Douglas Road. These are indeed serious health and environmental hazards and the lives of millions of citizens are daily endangered even as the state owned health facilities are moribund and inefficient. The only federal health facility in Imo State the Federal medical center is poorly equipped and overused because of the dearth of functional health care services in the state.
In the last four years the Imo state house of assembly is not known to have passed any legislation to regulate the unprecedented situation of noise pollution that daily make the lives of citizens very precarious. Heavy duty vehicles blare their poisonous horns while speeding along the few roads right inside Owerri municipality and deep inside where citizens reside and the healthy upbringing of youngsters and children are imperiled by this range of noise emanating from this horn blaring happy crazy drivers.
What about the unimaginable abuse of sirens by all manner of public officials including even wives of members of the Imo state house of Assembly? Why have the police in Owerri constituted themselves into noise terror gangs going about the streets of the city blaring these sirens and disturbing both the peace of the tax payers and exposing them to serious health challenges associated with noise pollution? Why is there no regulation by way of self control or even through legislative mechanisms to check the abuses to which sirens are subjected to by armed security operatives?
Why are the police terrorising Owerri residents with noise pollution and nobody is calling them to order and why has the state legislature not passed a law to regulate and effectively control noise pollution? Before consulting scholars on the health hazards of noise pollution may I state that the reason why our youth are doing badly academically and are no longer research minded is because of the widespread noise pollution that are unleashed on daily basis by a range of lawless drivers and lawless police operatives.
What is noise if one may ask? From a scholarly work of experts we were told that noise pollution "are sounds we hear in everyday life. Loud music, the television, people talking on their phone, the traffic and even pets barking in the middle of the night. However, when the sound of the television keeps you from sleeping all night or the traffic starts to give you a headache, it stops becoming just noise and start turning into noise pollution. For many of us, the concept of pollution is limited to nature and resources. However, noise that tends to disrupt the natural rhythm of life makes for one solid pollutant."
By definition, according to experts, "noise pollution takes place when there is either excessive amount of noise or an unpleasant sound that causes temporary disruption in the natural balance. This definition is usually applicable to sounds or noises that are unnatural in either their volume or their production. Our environment is such that it has become difficult to escape noise. Even electrical appliances at home have a constant hum or beeping sound.
By and large, lack of urban planning increases the exposure to noise In most of the developing countries, poor urban planning also play a vital role. Congested houses, large families sharing small space, fight over parking, frequent fights over basic amenities leads to noise pollution, so says scholars who should know. One major health hazards of noise pollution is hearing Problems. It is believed by experts that noise pollution also leads to emotional and psychological instability. Sleeping Disorders also result from noise pollution. People subjected to noise pollution can also have problems with communication,so says experts. From www.cwww.conserve-energy-future.com , we were told that there is no straight jacketed panacea to noise pollution.
"As of now, there do not exist many solutions to reduce sound pollution. On a personal level, everybody can help reducing the noise in their homes by lowering the volume of the radio, music system and the television. Listening to music without headphones is also a good step forward. Removal of public loudspeakers is another way in which the pollution can be countered."
"As is controlling the sound levels in clubs, bars, parties and discos. Better urban planning can help in creating ‘No-Noise’ zones, where honking and industrial noise are not tolerated. It is only when our understanding noise pollution is complete, can we take steps to eradicate it".
Seriously, the Imo State government must take the issue of controlling noise and environmental pollution as a major item of the governance process. Roads can be constructed as bypass for exclusive use of heavy duty vehicles so they do not go through the residential areas of the towns and cities in Imo State which constitute very serious health hazards to the lives of Imo state citizens.
The Inspector General of Police must and should call his commissioner to order so the police operatives within the state desist from their constant harassment of the citizens with their abusive uses to which sirens are put. The Imo State governor must show good example by stopping the constant abuses of sirens by his unusually large security team that move menacingly all over the place with him. The use of sirens must be restricted to only ambulances because there's really no need of this constant torture to which citizens are subjected to by state government officials who pollute the environment with so much noise.
*Emmanuel Onwubiko is Head of Human rights Writers association of Nigeria and blogs @www.rightsassociationngr.com, www.huriwa.blogspot.com, www.huriwa.org.