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Nigeria’s Solution to Noise Complaints? Shut Down Some Churches and Mosques.

Lagos is shutting down churches and mosques due to increased noise complaints.

LAGOS, NIGERIA - SEPTEMBER 28: Nigerian Christians pray together at the City of David Church September 28, 2003 in the affluent Victoria Island section of Lagos, Nigeria. Evangelical and Pentecostal churches in Nigeria are not only the domain of the nation's poor, but also of its very wealthy. Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity are spreading in many parts of the developing world, often outgrowing traditional forms of Christianity first brought by colonizers and long dominant. (Photo by Jacob Silberberg/Getty Images)
LAGOS, NIGERIA - SEPTEMBER 28: Nigerian Christians pray together at the City of David Church September 28, 2003 in the affluent Victoria Island section of Lagos, Nigeria. Evangelical and Pentecostal churches in Nigeria are not only the domain of the nation's poor, but also of its very wealthy. Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity are spreading in many parts of the developing world, often outgrowing traditional forms of Christianity first brought by colonizers and long dominant. (Photo by Jacob Silberberg/Getty Images)

The Nigerian city of Lagos is Africa’s largest: The metropolitan area sprawls in every direction, and is thought to house more than 20 million people. Traffic jams can last for entire days, and with the megacity emerging as an epicenter of youth culture, the lines for the clubs can seem just as long.

But all of that has come with a particularly annoying side effect: noise. And lots of it.

So the Nigerian government in Abuja has promised to come up with a solution that will make the city “noise-free” by 2020, and this week, they moved forward with that promise by shutting down 70 churches, 20 mosques, and 10 hotels, clubs, and bars that were violating noise ordinances.

The mosques used megaphones to blast the call to prayer throughout their neighborhoods, and Nigerian churches are so packed on Sundays that at times, a good portion of the congregation gathers outdoor to sing, dance, and pray outside of the church buildings.

This is not the first time Lagos has taken steps to shut down noisy establishments. Last August, 22 premises of various types were shut down due to complaints from neighbors.  According to Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency General Manager Bola Shabi, the city’s noise level has been reduced by around 35 percent.

“Enforcement is a continuous exercise and we have set a target for ourselves,” he said. “We want to ensure that Lagos is noise-free by the year 2020.”

And according to him, it’s easier to deal with the mosques than the churches, because Muslim leaders have traditionally agreed to shut off their speakers more quickly than churches.

That might be because the congregations at some pentecostal churches can top 200,000 people, many of whom yell and cheer in response to sermons. According to NPR, at least one megachurch planned for Lago will span 3.5 square miles.

Photo credit: Jacob Silberberg/Getty Images

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