Opinion | Civil Liberties | Peace and Prosperity For All? The Curse of Noise Pollution in Kampala By Jaffar Tonda

Posted May 3, 2016 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Noise Pollution ~ 4,369 views



According to an online dictionary, peace can be defined as freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility. Uganda is generally a peaceful nation, populated by friendly people. Her beauty is beyond dispute: indeed, She is the Pearl of Africa. I am born and raised in the capital, Kampala. I am a Mulago hospital baby. I have mostly enjoyed peace, thanks to the mostly stable government. Never in my life have I lived in any sense of insecurity, save for the past four years or so – because of noise pollution.

I am a law abiding citizen and tax payer – to the best of my ability. About four years ago, after years of saving and toiling, I was able to purchase a piece of land and construct a residence in Kyambogo. Before construction, as the law requires, I obtained building approvals from Kampala City Council. Within the first year of living there, a sad reality dawned on me: my health was hampered by inadequate sleep because of noise pollution.

During the night, I suffered loud music that blared all the way from a bar in Kireka. Forget day time naps: my neighbour – a wood workshop (Quality Wood) – operated machines in a make shift structure. I visited the Kireka bar and asked the management to keep their sound at a minimum at night because the Kabaka/Queen of Buganda lived up the hill. However, that request fell on deaf ears. I suspect the owner is not a Muganda because I would personally cringe at the thought of my beautiful Queen suffering noise pollution. My appeal to the proprietor, Eddie, of Quality Wood to set up his wood workshop to standard so it would emit less noise fell on stubborn ears as well. His reason: you found us here.

My continued inadequate sleep was indeed affecting my productivity. My doctor advised that I move. I could have hired goons to torch the bar and wood workshop. However, to the best of my ability I am a law abiding citizen. My lawyer friends advised that I should appeal to KCCA; they wished me “luck.”

I wrote an email complaint to KCCA about 3 years ago. My email was within a few hours responded to – peace at last!! Unfortunately, nothing could be done about the Kireka bar because it was outside KCCA jurisdiction; however, the wood workshop was to be immediately inspected. I applaud KCCA public health officials who visited the wood workshop the same week and took noise emission measurements. They stated that indeed, the decibels emitted were above permissible figures. A physical planning official visited as well and notified the management that the workshop lacked a building permit and a NEMA clearance certificate to operate. The owner of the workshop was taken to KCCA court for prosecution. Unfortunately, a year passed by, a second – nothing changed. After unfruitful follow up visits with the KCCA legal team, I made a decision to abandon my Kyambogo residence. Luckily I found a tenant, and rented an apartment in a peaceful part of Muyenga – save for Hotel International that pollutes the neighbourhood with noise on Sundays.

My new found rest must have helped to restore my productivity. Within one year of moving to Muyenga, I was able to save and purchase a house in Lower Kiwafu, Kansanga. After a few months of living in my new house, a sad reality dawned on me – I could hear varied disco sounds almost every night from two bars turned disco clubs on Ggaba road: Comrades bar, and Beverly Hills.  Note that the bars are each approximately two kilometres from my home. I am left to wonder how the immediate neighbours acclimate to the noise. If the homes contain school going children, I wonder how the kids (the next leaders of Uganda) stay awake in class the next day. The two aforementioned clubs play loud music six days each week, the worst days being Friday and Saturday when they play till 6am.

Again, being a law abiding citizen [I could hire goons to torch the bars] – I chose to reach out to KCCA; specifically the public health department. I was given a number to a noise pollution hotline: 0794 663 333. I called that number last week. The response was quite impressive. A team came to my house as late as mid night and took noise emission measurements. Within 10 minutes after they left, the neighbourhood was quiet. The following day was alarmingly quiet as well. This may sound dramatic but I actually slept restlessly because there was no noise pollution! It appears that to my poor body, noisy nights have become the standard.

The new found peace has not lasted long. Last night (Friday, April 30th 2016), Comrades bar and Beverly Hills bar played loud music until 6am! I know this for sure because I took a drive at 5am past the two bars, to verify. Am I going to have to make new trips to Elijah and Jackie in the KCCA legal department for years again?

I do understand that when Kampala residents place similar noise pollution complaints to KCCA, the institution does respond immediately. However, seems KCCA appears unable to affect a permanent solution. The noise polluters, in their desire to keep earning, shortly after seem to ignore KCCA instructions. How can City Authorities exert their authority effectively?

I am left with two options: migrate to another city in defeat, or begin a public campaign against noise pollution.

By Jaffar Tonda —

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.



    So true, I feel your pain. I say public campaign it’s a reality that possibly not many realise they can complain about, so they just put up and shut up & live with it, from loud music to Islamic calls to prayer and prayers, to schools located amidst residential locations, across neighbourhoods separated by miles apart. Spreads so widely Eg parts of metered / Kanyanya is all noise polluted.



    I live on kyebando ring road. Recentlyvwerr were invaded by Tongues of Fire ministries. Do we sleep ? No. Can the kids do their homework? Well they have to but the noise.

    May be we need a a class action suit or protest.


    i have experienced this too but sadly when i went to nema and reported, they first lied to me that the noise was in legal limits and i first accepted till the bar owner bragged about having paid them money. then i was so angry and i reported them to the nema legal department and i also got a noise meter app on my phone and to find out they had lied to me and the bar was playing too high above 40 db. i decided to go to the minister of water and environment to request him to remove the db in measuring noise for it provides a gap for corruption by the one holding the noise meter. i suggested that it should simply be put that no one should produce noise beyond their boundaries. The minister liked the idea and he told me to write a petition so that the idea is put in to regulations and later becomes a law. i even told him about my bad experience in nema and he was surprised. i need support from other people who have been affected so that we all sign and i later take it to him.

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