• Tue. Oct 3rd, 2023

Rising Noise Pollution in Kololo Ignites Frustrations among Residents

UGANDA, Kololo | Real Muloodi News | Once renowned for its serene ambience, upscale Kololo is undergoing a rapid transformation, evolving into a thriving hotspot, particularly favoured by affluent residents seeking nightlife experiences.

Upscale Kololo Transforms into Vibrant Nightlife Hub

The central locales of John Babiiha Avenue, colloquially known as Acacia Avenue, and Archer Road connecting Kololo and Lugogo, have become bustling after-hours destinations.

Every weekend witnesses these areas coming alive with blaring music and enthusiastic patrons occupying even sidewalks. This newfound vibrancy fuels a lucrative nightlife industry.

Bar Boom Sparks Discomfort for Residents

However, the burgeoning bar culture in Kololo has inadvertently taken a toll on the quality of life for the area’s residents.

Despite earnest attempts to mitigate noise pollution emanating from these establishments, little progress has been made.

It’s reported that the majority of these bars are owned by influential individuals, which poses a challenge to enforcement authorities in taking action.

High-Profile Complaints Highlight Growing Concerns

As far back as January 2022, Kololo residents, including diplomats, raised alarm over escalating noise pollution originating from the nightlife venues. In a formal communication to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union delegation to Uganda expressed their discontent regarding the persistently loud music played by the Lazio bar and restaurant situated along Archer Road.

“The incessant noise from the bars has left our diplomat residing along Archer Road sleep-deprived ever since the restrictions on bars were lifted,” the note outlined.

Martin Aroma, the chairperson of Kololo Neighborhood Watch, an organization representing the community’s interests, expressed frustration that despite numerous complaints, the noise levels from Lazio bar have shown no signs of abating.

“We have all expressed our concerns. I’ve received complaints not only from residents but also from the embassies of Germany, America, Italy, Russia, and others. We’ve reached out to KCCA (Kampala Capital City Authority) and Nema (National Environment Management Authority) but to no avail,” Aroma lamented.

In a bid to regain their peaceful living environment, five Kololo residents, led by Winnie Byanyima, the executive director of UNAIDS, took a drastic step in February 2019 by dragging seven Kololo bars to court over noise pollution. The bars named in the lawsuit include Casablanca, H2O, Big Mike’s, Atmosphere, and Wave Lounge. However, the case remains unresolved.

Aroma pinpointed the root cause of the noise pollution issue, attributing it to KCCA’s decision to reclassify Kololo from a purely residential zone to a mixed-use area. This change paved the way for an influx of bars and other entertainment venues, drastically altering the neighbourhood’s character.

“The bars operate between 6 pm and 6 am daily, but we also have schools, residences, and hospitals in the same vicinity,” Aroma highlighted.

Residential Exodus and Security Concerns

In addition to the noise disruption, Aroma highlighted that incidents of home break-ins allegedly by patrons of the bars have been reported.

Furthermore, inadequate parking facilities in the area have forced bar-goers to park on pavements and driveways, encroaching on private residences. This not only infringes on residents’ convenience but also poses security risks.

In February 2022, Kololo residents, led by Aroma, formally petitioned Dorothy Kisaka, the executive director of KCCA, to address the escalating noise pollution. While initial discussions were initiated, by October 2022, communication between KCCA and Kololo residents had dwindled.

“We were supposed to have regular meetings with Daniel Okello Ayen, KCCA’s director for Public Health and Environment, to monitor changes. However, Ayen began avoiding our meetings. We later discovered that Ayen was apprehensive due to Georgina Nyangoma, a staff member at KCCA, who seemed to support Lazio’s operations. Nyangoma has alleged connections to the first family. If all other avenues fail, we are prepared to take KCCA to court,” Aroma asserted.

Meanwhile, Osbert Amumpeire, the manager at Lazio, declined to comment on the issue, redirecting inquiries to higher authorities.

Nema’s Role in the Conflict

Dr Akankwasah Barirega, the executive director of Nema, acknowledged receiving complaints from Kololo residents concerning noise pollution generated by the local bars.

Barirega noted that although urban authorities like KCCA are primarily responsible for noise regulation, Nema has taken a larger role due to the scale of the issue.

“We are diligently pursuing a resolution. We have been monitoring sound decibel levels emanating from these bars and restaurants over time to establish a consistent pattern. If the noise levels surpass permissible limits, we issue improvement notices. Continued non-compliance could lead to equipment confiscation and subsequent legal action,” Barirega explained.

KCCA Under Scrutiny for Policy Change

Barirega criticized KCCA for transforming Kololo’s status from a residential area to a mixed-use zone, questioning the wisdom of granting licenses to bars in a residential setting.

He urged closer collaboration between urban planners and Nema to enhance planning quality across Uganda. Barirega emphasized that bars and restaurants in Kololo must understand that they operate in residential areas where tranquillity is paramount.

A recent inspection conducted by Nema at Lazio bar on April 25, 2023, at 11 pm revealed noise levels ranging from 60 to 62 decibels. This exceeds the nighttime permissible limit of 45 decibels stipulated in the Nema noise standard and control regulations of 2003.

Simon Kasyate, the spokesperson for KCCA, requested the media to submit questions via email, promising to respond. As of press time, Kasyate had not provided any responses.


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