Kenyan town cracks whip on religious noisemakers

Alarmed by noise pollution, a Kenyan Rift Valley town has ordered all churches to install soundproof equipment or move out, officials said on Thursday.

The Eldoret Municipal Council said residents had complained that the town’s dozens of churches were a public nuisance owing to constant noise — mainly preaching and songs — from sound-distorting woofers.

“Most churches have become a nuisance to the public. They disturb people with their summons and songs,” council board member Patrick Omollo said by telephone from Eldoret, an agricultural town in the Rift Valley region.

“We have instructed them to control the noise by installing soundproof equipment, or move out. I hope they are law-abiding churches and will respect the order,” he added.

In addition, the council has barred religious groups from gathering in the town’s public gardens.

The crackdown comes as Kenyan town councils are under pressure to deliver basic services and reduce pollution.

Churches have mushroomed in the majority Christian East African nation in recent years, mostly in urban areas where roadside preachers hold sway over the masses, pledging to perform miracles.

Since the year 2000, the number of Evangelical churches in Kenya has nearly doubled, from 20 000 to 38 000, according to the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, and experts say the figure may be higher due to a huge growth in small, unregistered churches. — AFP

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