In a city renowned not only for its commercial prowess, but its buzzing streets, traffic jams and ear-bursting noise, a noiseless working day seems far from the imagination. But today, Lagosian, residents of a city nicknamed the New York of Africa, bore witness to a horn-free day today.
In a bid to reduce noise pollution in Lagos, Africa’s most populous city with over 20 million people, mandated every driver on its roads to steer clear of their horns and other related noisy devices.
Unveiling an Action Plan last week to back up the #LagosHornFreeDay, Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola noted that action “is required to reduce noise pollution in the metropolis and suburbs.”
According to him, the volume of noise due to the hustle and bustle is self-inflicted. “Things can be better if only citizen can amend their ways of living.
“What you see is the way we now chose to live. It is because we choose to live in a very noisy environment which could be changed for better. We also tend to be noisy ourselves. So, we speak at the top of our voices, we play music at a very high volume. We do so many things at a very high noise level.”
The state had in its awareness programme enumerated the objectives of the horn-free day to include reduction of noise pollution on Lagos’ overburdened roads, cultivating respect for other road users, maintaining and encouraging road discipline, improving road use courtesy, encouraging positive road use attitude, avoiding indiscriminate use of horn,among others.
The government had therefore advised road users to on October 15, avoid the use of horn, avoid the use of siren, obey traffic rules and regulations, and also be patient, tolerant, courteous and road-user friendly.
Lagos wants this to happen on October 15 every year.
While adhering strictly to the #LagosHornFreeDay may encourage improved road use culture, a trait many local drivers lack, there are several other advantages to reducing noise pollution in a city greatly in need of some serenity. Noise pollution interferes with proper communication, peace of mind and behaviour.
It causes headache, irritability and nervousness, feeling of fatigue and decreases work efficiency. These consequences, in the most exaggerated of scenarios, could result in an economic fatality, an scary situation not only for Lagos – Nigeria’s economic hub which contributes a quarter of the country’s total GDP – but for Africa at large, as Lagos is said to hold the one of Africa’s biggest GDP’s at $45 billion. Such robust output places it on economic par with countries such as Morocco, Ghana and even Sri Lanka.
A crucial commercial city such as Lagos is expected to deal with the challenges attached to a booming and fast-paced society, one of which is the buzzing noise from car horns. But like any active engine – mechanical, human or societal – a deserving respite is needed regularly.