Opinion: The Menace of City Matatu Noise

By Martin Kibet | Thursday Sep 21, 2017

In the day to day activities of people living within towns one wouldn’t avoid using or encounter a public service vehicle well known as “mathree” or “matatu” or “nganya ”. The said PSV at any given point are well known to use any means to attract passengers by either modifying the body of the vehicle, use of music systems or hooting accompanied by choreograph movement of the vehicles. All this has some environmental as well as safety impacts.

A person living in Rongai for example in Nairobi County will take between 30 mins to 2 hours on the road depending on the traffic flow. This exposes passengers to high noise emanating from music systems installed in the vehicle as well as the normal vehicular traffic sounds. The effects of exposure to Noise are: 

  • Temporary reduction in hearing sensitivity as a result of short duration to excessively loud noise
  • Temporary ringing in the ears as a result of short duration to excessively loud noise
  • Noise induced hearing loss as a result of repeated exposure to excessively loud noise
  • Persistent ringing in ears as a result of repeated exposure to excessively loud noise 
  • Inability to hear hazards, alarms, warning sirens, conversation as a result of background noise 
  • Stress caused by irritating nuisance/ background noise

The study conducted by Dancan Otieno et al on the extent and potential impacts of noise pollution inside public service vehicle in Nairobi 2015 showed that PSV users in Nairobi are exposed to 86.3 +/- 9.6 dBA of noise inside PSVs and all sampled vehicle did not comply with Kenyan noise regulation. They found out that there is a growing habit of PSVs playing extremely loud music using amplifying equipment which is a major contributor of noise pollution inside a vehicle. The effects of this noise pollution could result to any or a combination of the above noise effects to the passengers.

The effects can be prevented or reduced if the noise levels could be controlled as provided by the Noise and Excessive Vibration Pollution (Control) Regulations of 2009 (Legal Notice Number 61) and strict supervision by the necessary regulatory body as well as awareness campaign to passengers on noise effects otherwise this could be a recipe to a future deaf city. 

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