HealthcareStrategic Opinions

Effects of noise, air pollution and harmattan in Lagos

By Gbenga Onabanjo

The unprecedented level of noise and air pollution in our city centres are cause for concern. The motorcyclist has his finger permanently on his horn to alert the other ubiquitous drivers of his presence as he meanders across the street in a manner akin to someone on a stunt drive.  The same goes for the tricyclists, whilst the motor drivers are not left out.

The emissions from these vehicles pollute the entire atmosphere, further exacerbating the global warming challenge by the depletion of the ozone layer. The noise level on our highways is so high that it could have a debilitating effect on our ear drums, resulting in hearing and speech defects.

I believe certain areas should be designated as Noise-Free Zone, especially around our courthouses, libraries and places of worship. 

Motorist should be educated about the dangers of noise pollution, whilst the no-horn day should be well celebrated.

It is not unlikely that a good number of children who go to school by public transport may already have some form of hearing disorder. This manifests in the way they shout, even when talking to the person seated next to them.

There are laws against noise pollution in the state, but they only stop at just being laws as there is no political will to enforce them. Beyond making laws, concerted efforts should be geared towards education, enlightenment and advocacies for the populace to be aware of the effects and dangers of noise pollution.

Mosques and churches should be cautioned against blaring their programmes out of loudspeakers. Music stores with loudspeakers blaring their music to the discomfort of passers-by should be educated about the effects of noise on the human system.

Of equal concern is the air pollution which has been made more obvious with the harmattan haze that recently ravaged the state.

The ministry of transportation needs to make emission test of vehicles compulsory, whilst the health ministry needs to embark on campaigns to sensitize the citizens on the hazards of air pollution to the health and overall wellbeing of the citizens.

Concerted efforts should be made by the government to study the causes of the congestion in our city centres and proffer solutions through transformative interventions and creating emission-free zones.

Some areas could be turned into “pedestrian-only” areas, and vehicles should be completely banned from plying such areas. However, car parking facilities should be provided in the precinct of such areas to allow vehicles to be parked.

To reduce the effect of dust, aggressive tree planting exercises should be carried out in all local government areas of the state.

The policy to pave or grass any surface should be vigorously pursued. There should not be loose earth anywhere, which is usually the source of dust.

Street sweeping should be accompanied with wetting of the surfaces to reduce the dust count in the air.

Road contractors should be mindful of the reduction in visibility due to the aggregates used, particularly the cement and granite dust. Periodically, they should wet the construction surfaces to help in the reduction of the dust in the air.

This is the time to bring to the fore the maintenance of public utilities like bus shelters, street furniture, street medians and buses. They should all be cleaned regularly to maintain their looks and prolong their use.

The harmattan season brings with it a lot of discomfort. Usually, with the harmattan, most structures and even plants and trees are covered with dust, whilst the grasses go dry and grey. Apart from the dust and the extremes of temperature, it equally fuels respiratory and skin diseases.

It is advisable to dress appropriately and drink a lot of water to rehydrate during the harmattan season.

Buckets of water could be placed at corners of the house to capture and dissolve the dust particles in the air.

This is also the time to check and clean the air filters in the air conditioning systems, whilst the window curtains and nettings equally need to be cleaned spick-and-span.

For now, enjoy the coolness of the early mornings, whilst you brace up for the afternoon heat.


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