23 November, 2008 - Published 11:25 GMT

Forum: Noisy Caribbean

DJ's rave: "Pump up the volume!"
Parents plead: "Turn it down."
Neighbours threaten to 'call the police'.

Then there's noise of traffic, industry etc - some would say the sound of an active and vibrant society.

But, is the Caribbean becoming too noisy?

Or, as one campaigner has said, we have grown far too accustomed to loud noise.

Noise abatement action

In Barbados, the issue has become one of national debate and has spawned the formation of the Society for a Quieter Barbados.

In St Kitts and Nevis, the government has just published draft legislation to regulate noise.

If it becomes law, a person will not be allowed to create noise in a manner that the sound is audible beyond a distance of 100 metres from the source of the sound and is reasonably capable of causing annoyance to persons in the vicinity.

Listen to report

Certain activities and events, such as carnival and other national festivals, would be exempt.

In Jamaica, at the start of this year, the police commissioner put clamping down on late night noise among his priorities.

The president of the Barbados anti-noise group Carl Moore has said that Barbadians have become far too tolerant of noise.

"Noise is an environmental issue - as important as litter and water pollution," he said in September.

Even in very religious Barbados, churches have come under fire for believing they have a God-given right to raise the decibel levels during services.

Is the Caribbean becoming too noisy?

YOUR VIEWS ON THIS ISSUE (This debate is now closed)

Jah say, we should make a loud noise to him.
Anthony Rose,
London, England

The problem of the high noise levels is within the culture, which is ever changing, where tastes change rapidly as well. If one can get a change in opinion of music levels within the listening community, the volume could drop.
However, the issue isn’t just the noise, but what is played behind it. The music that occurs in the minibuses are not just loud, but offensive and have lead to the constant decay of moral fibre which occurs throughout the West Indies, and the world. If we can stem that somehow, we can get to the volume issue more effectively.
Roseau, Dominica

Funny how this week I was just wondering what it would take for us to rid ourselves of loud music from cars disturbing us from a phone call in our homes or when putting our baby to sleep. Yes, the Caribbean is too loud. Too often we are interrupted by neighbours, and passing vehicles blasting music. We also have the problem of engine noises as regulation does not permit our roads and homes to be of reasonable distances apart. We even have neighbours who do not bother to tell you they will be having a party into the wee hours of the morning, and the police who fail to show up if you complain after midnight - even though the law should be on your side then. So we continue to bear it all and wonder - Will it ever go away? What will it take?
Port of Spain, Trinidad

The islands have always been noisy. It’s cultural.

It’s very insulting and conveys a level of immaturity, when someone states that the Caribbean isn’t Europe or America, meaning the Quality of Life is only being referred there or considers a civilized society.
The blasting of music in the Caribbean shouldn’t be accepted as the norm. Those who feel that Reggae music as to be played at so many decibels, outside or inside a building, for it to be enjoyed, are absolutely on the verge of madness.
The same effect from the music can be garnered, just by playing it at an acceptable level. So the comment made that Reggae, Soca music and other form of Caribbean music can only be enjoyed if played loud, is pure - or this is the Caribbean - “Hog Wash”.
This is not to dampen the enjoyment level of my countrymen or women. But one has to keep in mind others around us and Quality of Life also extend to them as well.
Those who keep referring to Europe and American standards being forced on the Caribbean are again belittling the main core of what Quality of Life means. How can one justify loud music playing when you’re in the comfort of your home, trying to sleep or even worse, being in church and the Pastor has to compete with the volume of the music being played to deliver his/her morning Sermon to the congregation.
There is a level of freedom the folks in Caribbean have become accustom to and due to the abuse of Quality of Life for others, the Government has to get involved to enforce some form of standards for all to abide to.
Fellow Caribbeans have to realize, we’re part of a Global Community and no matter our level of objections or resentment, need to adhere to a level of decency for the next generation to follow.
So let all enjoy our Island and also Quality of Life for all.
One Love.
David Johnson
New Jersey, USA

I live in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, and to tell you the truth this place is quiet even on the weekends. So those who want no-noise, peaceful vacations, then come to TCI. Even better, go to Grand Turk were things get real slow after 6pm, believe me, you will sleep. But I disagree with having to impose laws on noise. Noise is part of the Caribbean culture. I have visited many neighbouring islands, and love to go to the markets and clubs because of the vibrant nature. TCI can't help but be quiet, we have our moments but with such a small community you respect your neighbour with your noise levels. Instead the police should do more in those areas where the residents are complaining about the noise, than the Gov't of the country imposing a law that can stop a yearly block party or a family reunion event. Let’s balance this test.
Provo, Turks and Caicos Islands

In Grenada presently, despite a noise pollution act has been in place there seems to be lots of discomfort originating from the noise or amplified sounds from the DJs. Besides the deafening music, it also attracts a certain unaccepted thug /gangstar culture with it. This culture embraces violence, indecent style of dress and in some instances, indecent exposure of the body. This noise or nuisance also influences large gatherings, usually preventing the efficient movement of both pedestrian and vehicular traffic. By removing it completely may have direct effect on the livelihood of many, so I am suggesting that stricter legislation be put in place so more control for the unacceptable attraction the loud noise usually carries with it.
Grenville, Grenada

Funny how most of the people opposed to noise abatement action live outside of the Caribbean.
You should remember that the Caribbean is home to Caribbean people and not just a 'party hot spot' for tourists! Caribbean residents have a right to enjoy peace and quiet in their homes and those thoughtlessly or deliberately causing a nuisance should be encouraged (or forced) to change their ways.
Louisa Charles
London, UK

Keep the noise in commercial areas. Both businesses and churches need to respect the quality of life for the residents of local neighbourhoods. Don't let foreign interests influence local decision making.
Sunshine Coast, Canada

To you that think its 'uniquely Caribbean' and acceptable - I want you to try living day in and out next to the dancehall or the Church that insists on putting speaker boxes outside.
Your right to enjoy your music or church service should not impede on my right to some peace and quiet. Its far too noisey and laws should both be amended and enforced where necessary.
Hank Ferguson
South Beach, The Bahamas

Hi, I'm a vibrant 17 yr old student at Barbados Community College and I am a dancer and singer - so from that you would know that I love music. I don't agree that loud music in the society today is acceptable. I have travelled on the public transportation for a very long time and I still can't get use to the loud music. I have seen old and even young people complain to the driver and the conductor to turn the music down. But they ignore them and sometimes even curse them for asking. Young children, even babies, try to sleep in the van and I feel that it is inconsiderate of the drivers and conductors to behave in that manner. So, I believe that mini van (operators) should not be allowed to modify their speakers and the vehicles.
Ashley Hinkson
St.James, Barbados

True, it is too noisy. But the worse noise is the empty braying, hollering, hawking, blame-gaming, postulating, ‘wrong-and-stronging’, and ‘grand-charging’ utterances from … PM Manning and his cabinet. Empty vessels really DO make the most noise.
El Dorado, Trinidad

Noise is of course a big issue in the Caribbean but what's the Caribbean without noise? That's how it has always been. Simply put, it’s Caribbean culture. It's the perfect place for people to let loose and the kind of thing they look forward to. For young music lovers especially, it must be loud, powerful and full of vibration. It's the way of life of the people and has always been a matter worth looking into. Any legislation should however be tougher on late night music playing. After all, that has to be controlled. Otherwise, it’s just a cultural thing.
Mursha Harry
Toronto, Canada

It is really a problem in my neighbourhood. Sometimes I have problems listening to my tv or radio. I've reported the matter to the police umpteen times, but the problem still goes on. At present I am contemplating changing my residence. I welcome any new measures to tackle the problem.
St. Peters, St. Kitts

For me, the Caribbean is a place of tranquillity and outstanding natural beauty. It's somewhere I go to relax, 'chill out' and forget my troubles. It's laid back with a capital 'L', but that is part of its charm and what makes it the special place it is. However, during recent visits whilst relaxing on a beach in the warm sunshine, it has been impossible to escape the endless revving of Jetski engines and shouts of 'Jetski?' 'Jetski?' from the locals. Very sad I think.
Adrian Dean
Halifax, England

The Caribbean is too noisy.
Rena Nunez
Toronto, Canada

I Hate to sound like a grumpy old man (I'm grumpy, but not old) but it absolutely drives me nuts this new fashion/status symbol thing of everyone revving up those awful weed-whackers to cut their lawn just after I've settled down to let my rice and peas digest during my Sunday afternoon lie-down. Can grass only be cut on Sunday? And just when you think they're finished they bring on those motorised leaf-blower things to add to the pain. Modern life is hard enough as it is. Why are we so inconsiderate of each other?
UK (formerly of Barbados)

Noise is an integral part of the vibrant vitality that is the Caribbean. But people also need to sleep so there should be a curb on late night noise.
Aylesbury, England

Loud music every night or house parties every weekend is not my idea of quality living. No one seems to be thinking about the neighbours who must endure the noise. I have no problem with it as long as it is in an area designated for parties and fetes.
St Andrew, Jamaica

Who says it's too noisy? Huh huh huh? Where do you live? How noisy is your neighborhood? Why are you bothered so much?
Nate Valena
St Lucy, Barbados

The worst kind of noise is silence.
St. Petersburg, USA

Noise is a problem whether it is during a festivity or otherwise.
High levels of noise create PSH - Permanent Shift in Hearing. High levels of sound and those with the recurring or sympathetic beats will affect productivity because of a lack of a good night's sleep. This is not a European problem or any such. It is a human problem. Even with the proper mufflers and correct standards, there will still be pollution via air causing respiratory diseases. When I sleep, sometimes I have to use ear plugs because of the practising steel bands. Even after all these years, I still have not managed to ignore the noise subconsciously.
John Tung
Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

The level of noise perpetrated by vehicular traffic fitted with disco speakers is unacceptable and definitely against the law in The Bahamas, despite the lack of enforcement.
Maurice A. Williams
Nassau, Bahamas

I actually come to the Caribbean for noise, loud music and vibrancy each year. Try living in cloudy, foggy, dull England where people don't even murmur on the trains and the streets are silent after 10 pm. The suicide rates are high in northern hemisphere countries because of the darkness, bad weather and lack of vibrancy. Please hold onto the last bastion of your culture.
Monica Cummings
Surrey, UK

Yes, noise pollution throughout the Caribbean: on the beaches, basketball courts, village vendor stands and from vehicles, especially public transportation, needs to be controlled since it is offensive and inconsiderate.
Geoffrey Pidduck
Falmouth, Antigua

Personally speaking, I think this is what helps to make the Caribbean a unique place in the world: the different sounds, the noise, the culture. Although some may disagree as it relates to the loudness, noise was a part of life from time immemorial. We can’t stop it altogether, but in some cases where it is possible, control it. In schools, churches, hotels, restaurants, bars and casinos all over, even in the privacy of some homes, our appliances and equipments make noise. What are we going to do, deprive ourselves of certain ways of life just because of noise? Of course they are those who may take their noise making to an extreme, so, you deal with those accordingly. Noise will always be apart of us, whether we create it or control it.
Frankie Thomas
St. Mary's, Antigua & Barbuda

We try to mimic the lifestyles of the richer nations but never the standards. I live near an airport and I can hardly hear planes arriving and taking off - because of the emission standards imposed on planes over the last two decades. But NO standards are enforced for cars and motorcycles, owned by many young people who modify their mufflers and engines to sound like a Formula One car. The noise rattles people like me out of our sleep at night. In the Caribbean today, the night sounds no different from the day. Music playing is often seasonal, weekend or night-time hazard, but cars with tampered mufflers are every day and night, often all day and night. New Zealand has laws on noise emission standards for mufflers that bans people from modifying their cars to sound louder than the manufacturer intended. But in our islands, where we land is at a premium and many of us live cheek by jowl, there is neither protection nor peace. If I were a tourist I would not come to today's noisy Caribbean.
Julius Gittens
Christ Church, Barbados

Noise from music can never be too loud in the Caribbean. Oftentimes it is the masses’ only form of entertainment. Stop imposing European type of behaviour on Caribbean people. Jamaica government please note that the banning of sound system dances late at night will lead to a rebellion. The people will not allow those laws to be enforced. Sound Systems are a more important aspect of our culture than ridiculous European-influenced laws.
Lloyd Cummings
Philadelphia, USA