Mobile Menace

By Raffique Shah
September 21, 2008

Trinidad and Tobago News Blog
www.trinidadandtobagonews.com/blog

A Show CarIT was a desperate cry from an exasperated woman, and it tugged at my heart when we finally spoke on the phone. She made me feel ashamed of myself, since, like so many others, I, too, am a victim of the jarring, amplified noise that passes for music in too many private motor vehicles. As a columnist who is often the voice of victims who have few options to vent their suffering, I failed to write about this growing menace of noise pollution.

She lives at Clarke Road, Penal, and her story is one that can be that of more than three-quarters of our population. Clarke Road, when I knew it well, was a relatively peaceful village (several villages, actually), the exception being loud cussing from drunken villagers who patronised its many bars, mainly on weekend-nights.

Like all such communities, it has grown bigger: more houses, more businesses, more people, less agriculture and livestock rearing. It has become a kind of main road, much the way Cedar Hill Road in Claxton Bay, where I live, has burgeoned from a back-road to a busy freeway, or Beaucarro, where I grew up as a boy, has grown into a thoroughfare. You would think that residents, who once lived with their nearest neighbour being hundreds-of-metres away, would welcome development. But the price of progress, as “Joker” Devine wrote, is high, most times too high.

Indeed, what holds good (or bad) for Beaucarro or Clarke Road, applies to all districts in the country-even far-flung places like Matelot or Icacos, I feel certain. Over the past ten years or so, with the economy faring better and more people having the means to acquire motor cars, pollution has grown exponentially. And I’m not referring to just emissions from exhausts. More deadly is noise pollution of the most intolerable kind. Jamming that can wake up the dead in any cemetery. They parade day and night, driving slowly through commercial and residential districts, torturing residents.

The boors care nothing about people who do not want to listen to the gibberish they dub music-no pun intended.You can hear them approach from the proverbial mile away. There’s the pounding bass: boom! boom! boom! As they get closer, incoherent lyrics, at times laced with cuss-words, assault your ears amidst tweeters that sound like someone scraping rusted iron. And since one-in-four vehicles, on average, is equipped with these powerful sound systems, one can imagine the adverse effects this pollution has on so many people.

When maxi-taxis started the trend many moons ago, long before amplification got to the levels we now have, there was a public outcry-and the Government, Transport Division and the police acted on it. In a short time maxis were stripped of systems. Who will act now to stop the menace of these mobile-Carnival-like “big trucks” crammed into the back seats of small cars or pickups or SUVs? Not the police, as the lady who complained to me said. They told her to get the numbers of the offending vehicles. Now, you are inside your house, late night, fast asleep, and this booming noise startles you, wrecking your nerves. You are supposed to quickly run outside and “take de number”!

What madness! Cars “pounding” music pass, sometimes park, in front of police stations, and it’s as if the cops are deafer than the drivers. She made numerous complaints to the EMA. That body remains deaf-mute, unable to act on noise pollution, or any other infringement of environment laws. I don’t know that an appeal to government would yield any better results. Although he is mostly sequestered in a noise-proof limousine when he’s on the road, Prime Minister Manning cannot claim he is unaware of these insensitive noise polluters. His ministers, too, must be victims of these pigs-behind-wheels.

The problem has now reached epidemic proportions. People no longer enjoy peace in their homes, to which they are entitled. I pity the infirm, older people like my mother who have to endure this daily, nightly assault. I pity babies who require rest in their early lives, but who, instead, are potential victims of deafness because of these insensitive, mostly ignorant and illiterate noise-makers. Of course, if we have a caring government, its members would act with dispatch, realising seemingly small infractions like this are harbingers of worse to come in this already lawless society.

If the authorities fail to act, people will. Noise can send some people mad, quite literally. It won’t be long before we hear of victims attacking the perpetrators with full fury. I mean man running amok, mashing up cars-and-noise-systems, killing pigs-behind-wheels. Those in authority-the police, licensing officers, politicians-will tell us they have more important issues to address.

But deliberately disturbing the peace of others, subjecting people to torture-by-dub-or-chutney, often lead to the serious incidents. Sadly, in such instances the victims suffer for taking action the authorities ought to have done well before blood flows. Crack down on these mobile DJs now. Impound their cars, strip their systems, jail them, beat them…anything to relieve citizens of these mobile menaces.

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11 Responses to “Mobile Menace”


  • Ever look at a headline , or glance at the first paragraph and can tell the exact direction an article would lead ? This was certainly one of them and it’s one of the reasons why we can never obtain meaninful changes for the betterment of our society. Why did I know from the bigining that this would be an attack on one segment of the society , and not others?”The boors care nothing about people who do not want to listen to the gibberish they dub music-no pun intended.”
    How come I am not surprise that the burden would be left squarely at the feet of the Prime Minister and his government to solve the noise epidemic. “Prime Minister Manning cannot claim he is unaware of these insensitive noise polluters. His ministers, too, must be victims of these pigs-behind-wheels.” Perhaps one day our citizens might realize that they all have a responsibility to end any distaseful behavior that prevails across the nation be it crime , corruption, racism,bigotry , injustice, and greed.

  • I agree Neal with what you said there. I was reading this article and was in total agreement as I suffer from the onslaught from noisy mufflers and deafening music living near a road but then I saw it was heading down the path of blaming the prime minister. I wonder when Mr. Manning will not be blamed for EVERYTHING plaguing this country.

  • Trinibagonians have more things to worry about surely. Whats the real crime rate. This comes of no surprise from a country that prohibits curssing in English in public. What are the priorities of Trinidad and Tobago?

  • Come on now Mr. Shah. With everything else that is going on in Trinidad – rising crime, corruption, bigotry, people increasingly feeling alienated from their government and the resentment that produces – you spent 841 words on those youngsters blasting music from their cars?

    Yes they are annoying and immature, but that is our youth culture. A trend, albeit silly, that incidentally has been transferred to America and into Europe (see link below.)

    What happened boss? With all due respect, you’re acting like an old man. Come on now, better than that…

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/29/nyregion/29bikes.html

  • I live in Toronto and recently had to make a trip home to bury a relative. While the ceromony was in progress at the home of the deceased, a car stopped in front of the house, the priest just had to shake his head and wait a good five minutes for the noise to subside. This happened while the hearse was parked outside. The selfish driver would not even think about respecting the people alive much more the dead. This is T & T with 20/20 vision.

  • I totally agree with The Grundle, we need to allow our young people to express themselves. What is so bad about playing their music a little loud? There are much worse things they could get involved in, so let them play!!

  • Dira both you and misguided Gruntle totally miss the point with your disendenuous comments. What is comical is when old fools like the Shah pontificate profusely in the media ,cloaked in the clothes of moralism and baseless nostalgia.
    The good gentlemean in his youthful days was involved in borderline treasonals acts against our wonderful country and was on the verge of betraying the trust of his nation along with with others of the Snadhurse Coup School .Instead of getting a bullet in the head as might occur in similar cases in other global socalled democracies ,for such patriotism ,he as well as Rex Lassalle was given a pat on the wrist. He eventually became a trade union activist ,an MP ,and esteemed editor of reknown. We respect that very much, as we have faith in the redeeming qualities of time.
    I am hopeful that he would have that same attitude to many of our equally misguided youths that fell asunder of the law, but lack the legal and other social backgrounds to get a second chance on life. It does not need an intelligent Social Scientist like Dr./ Senator Ramesh Deosoran to recognize that the lawlessness that is prevalent in our country today, was germenated in the 70’s ,got its roots and prospered in the 90’s after the shenanigans of pseudo Muslim Abu Bakar and his henchmen, and blossomed unfortunately in the 21st century today into what we are experiencing. It takes more than finger pointing, skewed etnocentric labelings , and wishful politically motivated thinking ,to wish our problems away. Let’s start looking in the mirror good friends and see the ccorrelations. Need I say airport corruption scandal led by the Opposition Leader , his historical perenial nemises possible conviction for his part? How about the national attitudes to other white color criminals mescrants, and the part it plays on the psyche of thousands of blue color ones?

  • I agree with Mr. Shah. Trinidad has primarily linear settlements with homes close to roads. He torture of noisy cars is increasing. People intentionally retrofit noisy exhausts for reasons unknown. This causes chronic sleep deprivation, stress and hearing loss in people particularly the elderly and children. This causes fatigue, loss of productivity and contributes to heart disease and high blood pressure.

    The human ear responds to changes in tone. A car accelerating, decelerating or changing gears emphasizes this. When noisy mufflers are added the results are a moving torture machine. I am not talking about one or two cars, but there are thousands now on the road because of lax enforcement by police. These noisy mufflers are illegal. But why should it take police to enforce what is so obviously wrong? Don’t these people realize the stress they cause to others? Why is there no empathy in this society?

  • I agree with the grundle and dira let the youths play the music a little loud instead of committing a crime or even something worse. You all have to understand that even polices play loud music so why can’t the youths. Is’nt the police suppose to set an example for the youths

  • Latifya, what a retarded argument.

    Sadly aquiescing to delinquent anti-social noise making and loud music will quickly escalate to worse forms of criminality.

    Is it okay to break the law by certain degrees?

    • Only language laws. The problem in TNT is not the music or how loud it is played. It’s not exaust systems either. It’s Americanization. Sure, people in the states did not (until recent immigrants arrived) did not install loud music systems on bikes. However, “boom boxes” were the norm in the late 70’s and early 80’s when break dancing started. Companies like, Kicker, Crutchfeild, Kenwood, and Crunch raced to compete for louder crisper subwoofers for a slice of the auto after-market. Laws have been intact in many countries for decades now, but the hobby fades and then comes back.
      The problem is as always the parents. If parents don’t care what their children are doing, then they are less likely to do anything about it. If these “noisemakers” are multiplying, then apparently there are many parents who don’t mind.

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