Nigerian capital shuts churches, mosques over noise pollution
Nearly 100 places of worship closed in Lagos as well as a dozen pubs, hotels and clubs
Muslims pray at the Syrian Mosque in Lagos during the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
Africa’s largest city is closing dozens of mosques, churches and nightclubs in a bid to reduce noise levels for its 20 million residents.
The state government of Lagos is on a mission to make the Nigerian seaside city free of noise pollution by 2020.
“It’s a great menace,” said Adebola Shabi, general manager of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency. “Studies have shown that noise levels affect the amount of violence and affect our health.”
The agency has shut down more than 70 churches and 20 mosques this year as well as a dozen pubs, hotels and clubs, he said.
Authorities act on complaints from neighbours, first gathering stakeholders to discuss noise limits. If the din continues, the establishment is closed.
But many people are afraid to lodge complaints.
“I have a church and mosque on my street and they’re in competition to see who can be louder,” said sculptor Charlie Chukwu. “When the Muslims bought a small speaker, the Christians bought an even bigger one.”
During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ended earlier this month, he is awakened at 3am by calls to prayer, while his nights are raucous with Christian hymns.
He has not made an official complaint. “If you call the authorities, then you are seen as the anti-Christ, against religion, and you become the enemy on the street,” Mr Chukwu said.