Horn free: Lagos tries to tackle noise pollution

Nigeria's chaotic megacity Lagos today sought to impose a one-day ban on the use of the car horn, hoping to raise awareness about damaging noise pollution and improve quality of life.

AFP| Last Updated: Oct 16, 2014, 00:29 AM IST

Lagos: Nigeria's chaotic megacity Lagos Wednesday sought to impose a one-day ban on the use of the car horn, hoping to raise awareness about damaging noise pollution and improve quality of life.

The occasional honk still rang out on the crowded streets of the country's financial capital yet drivers, public transport users and pedestrians said they noticed that things were a bit quieter.

Many welcomed the idea but wondered whether old habits would die hard come tomorrow.

"If the intention is to reduce the noise, it's good," said Lateef Adebayo, a 35-year-old commercial driver. "But after today, I don't see people complying with the policy."

Traffic police have been advertising "horn-free day" on their high-visibility vests and have been told they can enforce existing legislation against unnecessary horn use.

Anyone caught tooting near schools, hospitals and security zones risks a 20,000-naira (usd 120, 95-euro) fine.

"The intention and the objective of the day is to reduce noise pollution," Lagos State government's transport commissioner, Kayode Opeifa, told AFP.

"The exercise will create awareness that horn misuse and abuse is very dangerous to health and the environment."

"Horn-free" Lagos is the first such event in Nigeria but follows similar noise-reduction initiatives around the world in places such as India's ear-splitting megacity, Mumbai.

If successful, the event could take place every year, said Opeifa.

The constant "peep-peep" of the car horn is the soundtrack to Lagos life and is seen by many as part of its vibrant charm as a hive of industry and bustling, entrepreneurial spirit.

Cars, the battered "danfos" or minibuses, "okada" motorcycle taxis and lorries all use the horn as punctuation before, during and after every manoeuvre -- and when stuck in notorious "go-slows".

But added to the thumping beats of loud music, the noise of generator engines and 20 million people talking and shouting, residents can barely hear themselves think.

More than 60 per cent of vehicles in Nigeria drive on Lagos' roads and Opeifa said attitudes needed to change about how the horn is used -- with more consideration the watchword.