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Standing up for what is right

Published: 
Friday, January 19, 2018

Amidst all the melée surrounding Carnival 2018—government funding or lack thereof of competitions, the cutting of prize monies, the controversial so-called double entendre lyrics contained in a song by a popular chutney soca artist—most of which divided public opinion along racial lines, it was a breath of fresh air to see our right thinking citizens stand behind the decision of the Managing Director of the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), Mr Hayden Romano’s decision to enforce the Noise Pollution Control Rules which is the law of Trinidad and Tobago.

I have always maintained that one of the major problems facing our country today is the failure to enforce laws. The Government and Opposition can go to Parliament every day if they so wished and pass law after law after law till they are blue in the face, none of it will make a difference if the laws are not enforced.

In this light, Mr Romano should be commended not only because he stands as an example to those who are reluctant to shake up the status quo for fear of becoming unpopular, but also for his determination to enforce the law equally without bias or partiality in favour of any one person or group. No one is above the law.

Eighteen years ago, the then UNC government, understood that noise pollution could have negative effects on both health and behaviour. So having passed the Environmental Management Act 2000 (EMA 2000), the government then went to Parliament and passed the Noise Pollution Control Rules 2001, (a piece of legislation created under provisions of the EMA 2000) to control levels of noise pollution in various environments, not only during carnival time, but at all times.

Shortly after there was an unconstitutional change in government and the law fell by the wayside and was widely ignored for the last 18 years, especially during the Carnival period. And so year after year, fete promoters and the like were able to do as they so pleased, not once having to pay any consideration to their patrons, or neighbouring communities’ health or well being.

And so, it was beyond distasteful to hear and frankly absurd to read the statement made by a fete promoter in response to the strict application of the noise (decibel) level. He warned that a strict application of decibel levels can effectively kill Carnival and the culture. How can keeping his noise down to acceptable levels, kill “the culture?”

And since when was “culture” defined as being allowed to break the law, rattle windows, upset and even harm residents (especially the elderly and young) and pets throughout the night?

The public’s response to his statement only served to further demonstrated that people are tired of and frustrated by the incessant noise of Carnival events at ridiculous hours, the urination on their walls and driveways, all without regard for the peace and quiet craved by the law abiding citizens.

The promoter added, “We understand and empathise by those affected by noise. We are not saying allow us to have our events and be unreasonable where decibel levels are concerned but we feel that the levels now set are unrealistic.” Now the shoe is on the other foot, and if indeed the noise level set by the law is unrealistic from the promoters point of view, now is the time to engage in constructive debate with all stake holders involved.

Thought and consideration must be given to those who do not partake in carnival events during the season. Until then, the law is the law and it must be obeyed.

If we want to rid our country of lawlessness we must begin by showing respect for each other and the laws that govern our society. Obeying the law does not “retard growth and evolution”; to the contrary it establishes standards, maintains order and protects liberties and rights.

Mickela Panday

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