The Kampala Capital City Authority has closed two bars in the city suburb of Kololo over noise pollution. By 10:00pm on Friday night, Big Mike’s Bar and Atmosphere Lounge, located on Acacia Avenue, were closed. Patrons who turned up for a night out at the premises were shocked to find barricade tapes at the entrances.
The KCCA spokesperson, Peter Kaujju, yesterday confirmed the development.
“We closed Atmosphere Lounge and Big Mike’s Bar over noise pollution and flouting public health regulations,”
“It is part of a major crackdown on polluters this week.”
The move comes a few days after the Civil Division of the High Court started the hearing of a case of noise pollution in the area. Property owners are accusing several bars in the area of disturbing their peace.
These include H20 Bar, Casablanca, Big Mike’s, Bubbles O’Leary’s, Atmosphere Bar and Wave Lounge. Also dragged to court, are KCCA, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the landlords that host the contested bars. Through their lawyers, Signum Advocates, the plaintiffs claim that the businesses violate their right to a clean and healthy environment by emitting noise beyond the maximum permissible levels.
The complainants also accuse the defendants of hosting music concerts, playing loud music and hosting late night parties. They also allege that street parking by bar patrons disrupts users of surrounding streets and pedestrian walkways, causing fatal accidents. It is further alleged that the noisy nightlife has resulted into prostitution and drug abuse in the residential area. The suit follows failure by the parties to reach a consent settlement on November 30, last year.
On Tuesday, both parties appeared before the Civil Division of the High Court deputy head, Henrietta Wolayo. During the hearing, John Barenzi, a lawyer representing the accused clubs, raised an objection, saying the court had no powers to handle it. In reply, the lawyer representing Kololo residents, Patson Arinaitwe, asked the court to disregard the objection, arguing that the High Court has unlimited powers to handle any matter.
After submissions, the judge notified the parties that she would study the file and interpret the law before pronouncing her ruling tomorrow. Among the complainants are Shariff Mansur, Vadodaria Rushikesh, Timothy Kreutter, Malik Bharwani, family of Elizabeth Roussos, Renee Industries Limited and UBK Development Limited. According to court documents, plaintiffs are owners and occupiers of property and dwelling houses on John Babiha Avenue, Acacia Avenue, Windsor Crescent and Somero Road in the Kololo.
The complainants want court to declare that the continuous activities of emitting noise and fumes by the social clubs constitute common law tort of private nuisance. They are also seeking a declaration that KCCA and NEMA’s failure to regulate the noise emissions from the social clubs amounts to breach of their constitutional duty to create and protect a clean and healthy environment.
“Court should issue an order compelling NEMA to re-designate the user and zoning of the land, where the social clubs are situated to their original residential status,” they asked.
In July 2013, in Nakaseero Kampala, Emin Pasha Hotel was fined sh20m for noise pollution in its neighborhood. The judgment against Emin Pasha Limited arose from a suit by 70-year-old widow, Ahmad Mahera, who lived adjacent to the premises. In the judgment, Justice Benjamin Kabiito was satisfied that their damage extended to Mahera in form of noise pollution, destructing her peaceful stay at home, rest and recreation, resulting into poor health, medication and infringing on her privacy while at home.