3 clubs, church in Mirema fined Sh5m for noise pollution, ordered to close

The Environmental and Land Court (ELC) has ordered the closure of three clubs and a church in Mirema Estate and fined them Sh5 million for noise pollution.

ELC Judge Judy Omange ruled in favour of the Amani Residents Welfare Association/Mirema after an affidavit filed by the association’s chairman Dominic Mbigi and John Koogi, a resident of the estate, highlighted the challenges they face.

In its petition, the association named Cocorico Wines, Paris Lounge and Grill, Tessara Entertainment and Trinity House International Ministry as having violated the residents’ right to a clean and healthy environment as enshrined in Article 42 of the Constitution.

In its ruling, the court found that the loud noise from these establishments had violated their rights and awarded them Sh5 million in compensation for the noise pollution caused by three bars and a church operating in the area.

“The petitioner therefore seeks the intervention of this court to protect the right of its residents to a clean and healthy environment and also to ensure that the children of Mirema Drive grow up in an environment that guarantees their right to life, survival, well-being, protection and development as provided for in the Children’s Act. 32,” the court ruled.

In addition, both the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and the Nairobi City County were found liable for failing in their duties to ensure that the rights of the residents were protected.

In their petition, the residents pointed out that the entertainment venues and alcohol outlets played loud music, disturbing residents’ sleep, while the church was accused of using loud sound systems for preaching and services, causing disturbance, especially on Friday nights and Sundays.

They added that the noise levels disrupted learning activities in nearby schools.

They also raised concerns about children being exposed to inappropriate music and indecent behaviour by patrons of these establishments.

“The noise emanating from the respondents has disrupted learning in the schools located in the estate and allege that the children in the estate are exposed to vile and obscene music content as well as indecent behaviour by the patrons and revellers who visit the establishments,” they added.

One respondent was accused of discharging raw sewage into an open drain, causing stench and violating the residents’ right to live in dignity.

The petitioners also claimed that some landlords had suffered losses as tenants were forced to move out of the properties due to the incessant noise caused by the respondents.

The respondents denied the allegations and argued that the noise levels hadn’t been adequately measured, and the court referred to previous cases indicating that factors beyond noise level measurements could be considered to determine whether the noise was unreasonable.

In the end, the court found in favour of the petitioners, confirming the violation of the residents’ rights and the failure of the 5th (Nema) and 6th (Nairobi County) respondents to fulfil their obligations.

“In the light of the aforementioned, I find that the petitioner has proven a violation of his residents’ rights as enshrined in Articles 40 and 42 of the Constitution,” the court ruled.

The court awarded the petitioners Sh5 million, apportioning liability among the respondents according to their degree of involvement in the matter.

At the same time, the court made several declarations and orders, including the cancellation of licences issued for the sale of alcoholic beverages within the estate.

“By order of this Honourable Court under Article 70 of the Constitution, the licence issued by the 6th respondent to the 1st to 3rd respondents for the sale of alcoholic beverages within a residential area is hereby revoked,” it ruled.

The court also ordered the OCS Kasarani Police Station and/or the Roysambu Assistant County Commissioner to assist in implementing the orders of this honourable court.

“The people of Kenya can only realise the promise of the Constitution of Kenya if public servants are responsive to the concerns of citizens, while it is appreciated that government and county offices are hampered in their work by financial challenges, the least that citizens can expect is that when they write a letter of complaint, it will be responded to if not addressed immediately,” said.

Data from the Nairobi County Liquor Board shows that in 2021, Starehe constituency had the highest number of registered liquor shops (88), followed by Roysambu (where Mirema is located) with 48. Lang’ata and Dagoretti North each had 35 new wine and spirits shops.

According to the National Environmental Management and Coordination Regulations, no person shall make or cause to be made any loud, unreasonable, unnecessary or unusual noise which annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health or safety of other persons and the environment.

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja last year ordered the closure of a number of clubs for noise pollution, sparking an outcry from stakeholders in the industry who argued that the move would lead to job losses.

Members of the Nairobi County Assembly (MCA) also moved quickly to stop the directive by passing a report calling on Mr Sakaja to rescind the order to close the nightclubs.

A spot check carried out by the Nation following Mr Sakaja’s directive revealed that most clubs and bars operating in residential areas were not complying with noise regulations.

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