Noise Abatement Act Amendment Not A Leeway To Play Loud Music, Says Jamaican Minister

Buju Banton PM Andrew Holness

Jamaica’s Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, says the temporary amendment to the Noise Abatement Act, which allows entertainment events carry on for two additional hours, is not a leeway for Dancehall sound system operators to disturb neighborhoods with loud music.

Speaking in Trelawny last week, the Minister said failure to play the sound systems within the requisite decibels could result in equipment being confiscated by the police.

“What we are saying is that the amendment to the Noise Abatement Act, and to the hours, is just to facilitate persons through the holiday. It is not a license to use it to disturb your neighbors,” he said.

McKenzie also said persons who keep sessions where they constantly violate the rules, should not be given permits by the local authorities to keep events. He also said there will be no more consideration given for any amendments if the sound system operators fail to comply with the guidelines.

“The police have strict instructions. If the noise goes beyond what the Noise Abatement Act says, it should be then the police can tell you turn it down. Once you fail to turn it down the law gives them the right to take away the equipment. We don’t want that,” he said.

“This amendment has been done in good faith by the Government and we are expecting that those persons who are putting on these events will show some level of understanding and consideration for people within the communities,” he added.

Under the temporary amendment to the act, on weekends, the lock-off time for events will be extended from 2:00 am to 4:00 am. Parties, dances, and stage shows can also go until 6:00 am if there are no complaints from residents about noise pollution.

Kingston Mayor Delroy Williams has said that he has been told by some promoters that the noise pollution problem at times becomes out of their control, because selectors disobey instructions to lower the decibel levels. He said nonetheless, event promoters have a duty to employ professional sound engineers and sound technicians, to ensure their events do not disturb others while maintaining high-quality music.

Under the Jamaican National Noise standards, the tolerable and acceptable noise levels are 60 to 65 decibels in commercial areas, with a range from 50 to 55 decibels being acceptable in residential areas.