Feb 8, 2012

Vietnam - Café bars’ music a permanent nuisance

Noise pollution on streets in major Vietnamese cities has worsened at an alarming rate. From café bars to commercial centers and supermarkets, many businesses turn their high-powered speakers to maximum volume.

Those street-front premises, especially café bars where teenagers flock to kill time, compete with one another to make their music the loudest, in hope of attracting customers. The speakers work all day long, often until midnight.

Local authorities issued pecuniary punishments but failed to stop the spread of this brand of pollution, despite having the power to close down the premises.


In Ho Chi Minh City, more and more café bars have opened on busy streets like Truong Sa, Vinh Vien, Su Van Hanh, Le Van Tho, Cay Tram and Nguyen Anh Thu. All of them are well equipped with high-capacity loudspeakers to play hard rock and dance music from morning till night.

The noise is not contained to within the premises, but spills out onto public places like the street, and is unavoidably heard by unhappy residents living in houses nearby.

This has occurred year after year. Once local residents lodged complaints, local authorities issued fines but failed to prevent the violations, as the businesses continued to be a nuisance to local residential areas.

The street-front café bars spring up side by side and compete with one another to ensure that others do not drown their ‘attractive music’ out.

Ms. Hoa, a resident of Truong Sa Street in Phu Nhuan District, said, “I have fallen ill because of the noise pollution from the bar DJ Hoang g next to my house.”

“My son had to move his wife and children out of my house to live in a rented house in another area to escape the noise,” she added, claiming that she has headaches and hearing loss due to the music.

Not only pointing speakers out onto the street, most café bars hire young girls as hostesses. They always wear short skirts and walk or stand in dancing positions to attract male youngsters.

Some bars open even till 3:00 in the morning.

Bar 008 on Su Van Hanh Street in District 10 ‘deploys’ eight high-powered BJL speakers to produce extremely loud music. Lights and decorations inside the bar make it look like a miniature discotheque.

A tall hostess approached Tuoi Tre reporter and lowered her mouth close to client’s ear and shouted, “May I have your drink order?”

“Soon, when more clients come, we will turn on louder music, it will be no different from a disco here.”

Many male teenagers took turns to rush out of the premises to answer their mobile phones while the music was roaring, overwhelming the bar.

And it is not only bars. Fashion shops and supermarkets Z3, Sao Thoa, X7, and AO on streets Truong Chinh, Hai Ba Trung, Le Van Sy and Nguyen Dinh Chieu turn on their music for the entire street to hear.

The excessive noise pollution has caused a variety of diseases in locals, due to both damaged physiological and psychological health as the displeasing noise disrupts the activities and balance of people’s daily life.

It is easy to understand that noise pollution can cause annoyance and aggression, hypertension, high stress levels, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, and other harmful effects; even forgetfulness and severe depression and at times of panic attacks.

As a rule, the normal range of hearing must be below 75 dB in the daytime and 70 dB at night till 22:00pm. Above that level it is hazardous and can result in permanent hearing damage. Auditory nerves can be permanently damaged from prolonged exposure at 90 dB. 120 dB can cause pain and ringing in the ear, and sharp pain and extensive destruction of the auditory nerves occurs at 140 dB. At 150 - 160 dB massive destruction of the auditory nerves and persistent ringing in the ears will occur immediately.

Authorities read law and say they ‘may close them down’

Surveys found that those café bars have created noise at levels from 80dB to 94 dB, which far exceeds the level ruled appropriately by law.

Dinh Hoang Linh, chief of the culture and information unit of District 10 said his agency has fined many bars for noise pollution.

He promised, “We will close them down should they be found in violation for a third time. He called on residents to report the nuisance to him so that he could eliminate it.”

Actually, residents and management boards of residential areas have brought their complaints to authorities for years, but the violating premises keep operating, leaving some residents little option but to move to other area.


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