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#BTEditorial – Something to make noise about

by Barbados Today
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The crackdown on the noisy nuisance inflicted on residents in some rural and urban communities by kite owners who insist on having obnoxious bulls and other noisemakers on their kites, is long overdue.

Barring politics and concerns about the state of the island’s roads and the long wait for services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, this issue has for years generated some of the loudest complaints but has been met with little action.

Members of the public finally got a hint of possible relief over a week ago when Attorney General Dale Marshall announced that Parliament would make amendments to the Minor Offences Act, prohibiting the flying of kites with noise-making apparatus from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Said Marshall: “In simple terms, you can fly a kite for as long as you want so long as it does not have a bull because we all know that is what keeps the noise, and that is what causes the nuisance.”

“So, the essence of this then, is that at seven o’clock in the night, that kite has to come down and it cannot be flown until six o’clock the next morning. So that between seven at night and six in the morning, any person that flies a kite with a bull or any other kind of noise-making apparatus will find themselves afoul of the law.”

Those contravening the law would receive a fixed penalty of $500 through a ticketing system. 

“If you pay the penalty, there would be no issue. If, on the other hand, you insist on proceeding to court then of course you may find yourself subjected to the full penalties of the law as determined by the magistrate who hears the matter, or if you don’t pay [the ticket],” the AG added, explaining that anyone found guilty by the court would then be fined up to $5 000 or sentenced to a term of imprisonment.

The promised legislation was laid at Tuesday’s sitting of the House of Assembly.

We now eagerly await not only the passage of the legislation but, moreso, its enforcement.

We are all quite aware that Barbados has an abundance of tough laws but effective application to maintain order is where we sometimes fall short.

Certainly, the legislation should be endorsed by all, especially those who have had to endure the onslaught of noisy kites while trying to rest.

There are suggestions that the law will erode the age-old favourite Barbadian pastime of kite flying. But surely, we can also enjoy the rewarding experience of watching a kite ascend into the blue sky, dancing to the billowing wind, without the constant, loud droning. That is excess noise that no one needs. Aren’t we bombarded with noise increasingly, all day, as it is?

If there is one criticism of the Government’s effort to address this nuisance, it is that there was no announcement of measures to crack down on other noise pollutants.

It has become the norm for noise – whether emanating from bars, minibuses, private cars, motorcycles, political meetings, churches, crusades or other events – to invade the peace of communities across Barbados.

One must wonder if this has contributed to growing aggression and intolerance in our country.

As a modern society, we must understand the value and necessity of peace, quiet and rest.

Persistent exposure to loud noise can severely impair hearing, disrupt sleep, and trigger conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and anxiety, the experts tell us. Children who have to deal with constant noise pollution also lose the ability to concentrate and study.

Now, those are effects that we should make noise about.

Meaningful discussion on noise levels in this country is long overdue.

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