A stroll around Harare’s Central Business District (CBD) during the day reveals some extremely sad events as far as noise pollution is concerned. As much as the city fathers continue working towards the world-class city status by 2025 vision, the CBD seems to be driving in the opposite direction.
The non-performing economy has given rise to strange and aggressive marketing manners in the CBD including playing high pitched music in shops as well as in the streets, while commuter omnibus crews are accused of making all sorts of noise just to attract passengers and this usually happens at undesignated pick up points around the city.
263Chat embarked on a research to find out what may probably be the noisiest street in the CBD of Harare.
High pitched music on several shop entrances coupled with shouting touts and hooting commuter omnibuses between Robert Mugabe and Bank Street along Mbuya Nehanda Street emerged as the noisiest part of the CBD of Harare.
In an interview with 263Chat, Givemore Dhlakama, a boutique employee said they are forced into playing music at high pitch to win customers against their competitors.
“If we don’t do play the music high the customers won’t come in. When a customer who loves Leonard Zhakata hears him playing they will be forced to come in and may eventually buy on impulse,” said Dhlakama.
Batsirai Maminingo, a shop attendant at one of the few boutiques that resisted the temptation to join this form of marketing around this area said, “It is because these other shops which use noise as a marketing tool have similar products in stock to offer hence heightening competition and they so resort to noise in the effort to lure in more customers than the other competitor.”
When asked on whether they have ever been arrested by the Harare City Council concerning noise pollution, an unnamed shop attendant said, “Yes they sometimes come but we just pay the fine and we continue with our business as usual.”
The Urban Councils Act prohibits use of loudspeakers or other devices for the reproduction or amplification of sound.
Equipped with this by-law, City of Harare seems to be paying a blind eye to noise which has become synonymous with Mbuya Nehanda and many other parts of the city which have been raided by unorthodox business operators.
Meanwhile this style of marketing is seemingly diffusing all over the CBD as some of the streets that were previously known to be quite and peaceful like First Street are now noise polluted with people selling music to passersby around the city.
Some businesses like banks thrive around quiet and peaceful atmosphere and with calmness slowly becoming extinct in the CBD, their only hope is for city fathers to quickly move in and restore sanity in the sunshine city.
This could also explain why many businesses are no-longer keen on returning to the CBD are comfortable operating from residential suburbs including Milton Park, Hillside, Eastlea and Avenues among other areas.
Studies have shown that noise pollution has health effects among them constant stress, sleeping disorders, fatigue and hypertension.