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KCCA to stand in dock as hotelier sues noisy church

NOISE | A local hotel in Mbuya-Bugolobi has sued Bishop John Ssali Lulenti together with his Jubilee Christian Life Church for making incessant noise that is too offensive for his clients.

In the case, which has seen Nakawa Division and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) attached as respondents, Duomo Hotel accuses both Ssali and the church of conducting activities that lead to emission of noise levels that are not legally acceptable and thus amount to being called “a public nuisance.”

The hotel, located in Mbuya- Bugolobi opposite Zone 7 club and restaurant, says that its case arises out of “tort of public nuisance and noise pollution.”

On various dates, since January 2018, Duomo imputes that Jubilee Christian Life Church, through Ssali and other agents, during prayer sessions and other activities emitted excessive noise beyond the acceptable decibels or levels as prescribed by law.

Consequently, the hotel says that it lodged several complaints before Nakawa Division, KCCA and National Environmental Management Authority (Nema), which it says are responsible authorities to intervene and take appropriate action.

“Nema commenced investigations and inspected the premises occupied and used by Jubilee Christian Church and found that Bishop Ssali and the church were emitting noise in excess of the permitted levels under the law,” the suit prepared by Landwell Advocates and Solicitors, partly reads.

Awakening suit

The suit could turn out to be the dynamite that could awaken the rest of citizens against noise pollution by churches, especially in towns.

Often times, the public has complained of noise pollution from Pentecostal churches many of which are operated in the vicinity of businesses and residential areas yet they deploy huge public address systems to conduct their praise and worship sessions.

However, the public has often complained that KCCA, under the stewardship of Jennifer Museveni, has simply looked on and ignored the complaint, with many pointing to Musisi’s religious affiliation as a born-again Christian as one of the reasons KCCA does not act on complaints against churches.

Despite being cautioned by Nema, Duomo says that both Ssali and the church continued to cause noise pollution and were summoned by Environmental Protection Unit (EPPU) for disciplinary action but the hotel says that the summons were ignored by defendants.

Due to several complaints from the hotel which was joined by residents of Mbuya Zone II, the suit says that Nema was compelled to confiscate the church’s equipment from its premises.

“With the likelihood of prosecution,” Duomo says, “the church and its proprietor Bishop Ssal approached Nema for an amicable resolution of the matter.”

In October, the hotel says that Nema entered into an Environmental Compliance Agreement aimed at mitigating the excessive noise emissions by the church. The church was tasked to follow measures laid down to comply with Noise Standards and Control Regulations of which Duomo alleges that it has failed to adhere to.

Information obtained from the defendants, procured by their own admission, reveals that the church is aware that it possesses no occupation permit or physical plan for its illegal structures, Duomo, further alleges.

Unfortunately, and to its dismay, the hotel says that both Nakawa Division and KCCA authorities have either failed or neglected to carry out their statutory duties to enforce the law and reprimand both Ssali and his church from operating in illegal structures.

“Duomo Hotel has severally requested Nakawa Division and KCCA to investigate the legality the church’s operations and whether the premises are duly approved to conduct religious activities but no action has been taken,” the affidavit says, adding that noise produced by the church has gravely affected its clients leading to loss of business income.

The hotel, consequently, wants the High Court civil division to order the demolition of the church and also order Bishop Ssali and the church to pay Shs50 million accruing from losses the business has made as a result of the noise.

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