A rise in disposable income should in theory lead to an improvement in people’s quality of life. It makes it possible for people to buy or enjoy things they may not have been able to afford before.
But we all know that is not necessarily the case. On the contrary, more than ever, we are having to endure a raft of growing inconveniences in the wake of an economic upsurge.
Traffic gridlocks in so many places at peak hours are creating problems no amount of road widening is likely to solve. And let’s not mention the worrying increase in road rage!
The environment, a key component that determines the quality of life, has taken a serious knock, not just with the chopping of trees and the destruction of old houses to make way for nondescript blocks of flats, but also with the sheer neglect of public places and the piling up of rubbish everywhere.
Constant mechanical drilling at proliferating construction sties has become the island’s public background ‘music’, and cranes have now become a permanent part of the landscape.
The cherry on the cake is noise. Excessive noise. The endless firing of petards at village feasts and the pealing of church bells in the very early hours of the morning are irritants many have come to accept as part of local custom.
But with the steady expansion of tourism and the mushrooming of entertainment spots everywhere, the playing of music that goes on well into the night has given rise to a new nightmare as people in a number of places, not necessarily close to entertainment areas, are sometimes unable to get a good night’s sleep. The code of police laws and the Trading Licences Act provide against the playing of music that causes a nuisance to people in the neighbourhood, but enforcement is not strong enough to deter offenders.
What is most disconcerting is that even the government appears to be discriminating between nationals and tourists insofar as protection against excessive noise is concerned.
A legal notice prohibits entertainment outlets in tourist areas from playing music that can be heard outside their premises after 1pm. An opinion article in this newspaper highlighted the fact that hotel owners had been inundated with complaints by guests about excessive noise that was making it impossible for them to sleep until dawn.
Whether the new regulation will be followed to the letter or not remains to be seen, but what is glaringly obvious is that the prohibition ought to have been made also applicable to organisers of entertainment activities elsewhere across the country.
People living in Attard, Balzan, Lija, Rabat, Mtarfa, Mosta and other localities have been complaining about excessive noise at night for years now.
It is all very well to take care of tourists, but why discriminate against the locals, as the legal notice would seem to do?
Other than the obvious inconveniences it creates, noise has been found by the World Health Organisation to be the second largest environmental cause of health problems, just after the impact of air quality.
Since noise impacts people’s quality of life, it is high time the government gives proper attention to it. All we are asking for is some peace.