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Environmentalists, Police Divided on Noise Pollution from Places of Worship

Moses Byamukama, the Officer in Charge of the Environment Unit at Mukono Police Division, disregarded the outcry and cleared the operation of Churches and other places of worship.

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Police in Mukono have differed from Mukono municipal environmental officers in controlling noise pollution from churches and open crusades.

The police embarked on a campaign to sensitize the community against noise pollution with a view to apprehending non-compliant persons and entities. The focus was mainly on bars and entertainment centres.

But the drive which started two months ago triggered complaints from residents about the exemption of born-again churches. They argued that apart from emitting uncontrolled sound, many Churches had erected megaphones on their rooftops, many of them in residential areas.

However, Moses Byamukama, the Officer in Charge of the Environment Unit at Mukono Police Division, disregarded the outcry and cleared the operation of Churches and other places of worship. Byamukama assured the pastors of utmost freedom of operation, adding that unless a number of complaints are filed against them by their neighbours, they will face no interruption.

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He was speaking after a meeting held at Mt. Lebanon Church in Mukono Central Division. Earlier, the pastors had indicated that the complaints were part of an evil move to fight the spread of the Gospel. Rosette Nakabirye, a pastor at Mt. Lebanon Church argued that calling the Lord out is biblical, spiritual and joyous and it cannot, therefore, be regulated by human legislation.

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Another pastor, Joseph Kakande says the laws were enacted without consultation and cannot, therefore, be used against the pastors.

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However, Mukono Municipality Environmental Officer George Masengere says that the exemption of Churches may block efforts to control noise pollution. Masengere also notes that the police’s move contradicts the Deputy Inspector General of Police’s directive on enforcement of the noise pollution law.

At the end of April, the Deputy IGP, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Katsigazi Tumusiime directed police across the country to enforce the noise pollution law and regulate unnecessary sound both during the day and at night especially from bars, churches, construction sites and other places of social gatherings.

According to Masengere, the directive coincided with the purchase of a sound level meter to regulate noise in Mukono and warns that Churches will not be exempted from the regulation if they fail to comply with the guidelines as stipulated.

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James Kamya, the Mt Lebanon Church lawyer, however, advises pastors to limit sound levels since once they are taken to courts, references shall be made in line with the available environmental laws, not the bible.         

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