• Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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BusinessDay

Lagos and the danger of noise and air pollution

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It was a scorching afternoon. I was on my way to the Lagos State University, LASU, to keep up with some important engagements. So, I had to pass through Agege, Iyana-Ipaja and Iyana-Iba. The experience was quite horrendous. At Agege, the noise coming from various sources and directions was akin to that emanating from a mad house. If Agege was a market place of the absurd in terms of its deafening sounds of fury, Iyana-Ipaja and Iyana –Iba were evidently rowdy and riotous with regards to the needless noise emanating from the two locations. In the midst of the perceptible lunacy, I began to wonder how those that live or work in this axis cope with such high level of insanity. Thinking of the fact that some schools are actually located along the path of such atrocious uproar is enough to make one go crazy!

This, of course, is part of the many ironies of Lagos. Lagos is a land of opportunities. The sheer allure of Lagos drives many to this city of aquatics splendor. It is this exodus that actually makes Lagos a melting pot. This is what makes Lagos tick. The presence of people from diverse walks of life is partly responsible for the prosperity of Lagos. It is ironic; however, that the prosperity of Lagos has also brought a huge pressure on the State as lots of human induced activities that guarantee its prosperity, if not properly checked, could usher in unimaginable misery for this ever bustling City State.

Beside noise pollution which is a common trend in almost every part of the metropolis, air pollution, which is an equally dangerous menace, has become an integral part of living in Lagos. With most industries in the State sidetracking the required standard in terms of the management of industrial smoke, water and waste, Lagosians daily live with the risk of inhaling polluted air that constitutes serious health hazard to all and sundry. Contamination from the fume of domestic and industrial generating sets, industrial machines and the likes is a daily reality that we all subsist with in Lagos.  Many residents’ health conditions have completely deteriorated as a result of the poisonous effects of industrial pollution. Indeed, many have died as a result of failing medical situation arising from the hazard of air pollution.     

It is in an attempt to address this intricate issue that officials of the Lagos State government recently sealed up some religious centers, hotels and industries that have continued to make nonsense of the State environmental regulations. The State government’s action was the culmination of months of consistent interface between proprietors of these organisations and officials of the State. It is a statement of strong intent from the State government that affirms its zero tolerance for environmental abuse. Considering the harmful effects of this flagrant abuse of environmental laws by the perpetrators, the action of the State government was driven by the desire to protect the well- being of the populace.

It is unfortunate that many people seem not to recognize that the worth of our lives as human beings is significantly a manifestation of the quality of the surroundings which we inhabit. Many still seem not to understand that the environment which we live in, like blood is to the human body, is life in itself. Therefore, it is whatever we give to the environment that it throws back at us. It is as simple as that! Most cities of the world experience environmental abuse as a result of the ignorance of the people when it comes to environmental matters. When we consciously decide to operate in manners that could jeopardize the environment, we are the ones that would definitely put up with the results of such actions. Hence, we need to realize that ensuring a healthier environment should be everybody’s task.

Research has shown that people who reside in noisy and polluted places are more susceptible to contracting terrible diseases and as such easily vulnerable to avoidable deaths.  At the 2007 World Health Organization Conference on environmental pollution, it was agreed that noise causes severe mental health problems, sleep deprivation, hearing impairment, high blood pressure, and many other diseases. The most immediate effect of noise pollution is, however, a deterioration of mental health. People who live too close to airports, for instance, will probably be quite nervous. Continuous noise can create panic episodes in a person and can even raise frustration levels. Also, noise pollution is a big deterrent in focusing the mind to a particular task. Over time, the mind may just lose its capacity to concentrate on things. This explains why researchers and academics prefer to live in quiet neighbourhoods where they could stay close to nature for effective concentration. Another immediate effect of noise pollution is a deterioration of the ability to hear things clearly. Even on a short-term basis, noise pollution can cause temporary deafness. But if it continues for a long time, there’s a danger that the person might go stone deaf.  Excessive noise could also have a dangerous effect on the heart.

As it has demonstrated with its recent action, the Lagos State government has zero tolerance for environmental pollution in the State. It is, therefore, determined to bluntly tackle this menace. However, it is important to appreciate the difficult and complex nature of the task. There is a need for stakeholders to effectively collaborate with the State government in tackling the ugly trend of environmental pollution in our society.  The recent backing given to the State government, in its drive to curb noise and air pollution in the State, by the Lagos Island Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, is, indeed, a welcome development. It is expected that other faith based organisations, communal leaders, transport and industrial unions, well meaning individuals and others in the society would give similar backing to the State government in this onerous task of tackling noise and air pollution in the State.

Worship centers, hotels and industries across the State must comply with the State’s environmental law since it is meant for the common good of everyone. If we want to maintain a sane society, we must learn to adhere to societal laws. The prevalence of major life threatening diseases is already causing enough health hazards in the land. Hence, it is only sensible that we shun all human induced activities that could further endanger human lives. We must put aside all pointless sentiments and embrace a sane environment that upholds the safety of everybody. This is the only way forward.

Tayo Ogunbiyi