The Adjabeng Circuit Court in Accra has ordered the immediate closure of the Accra branch of the Ebenezer Miracle Worship Centre.

The order followed an application from the Public Health Department of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) that requested the court to place an injunction on the church until the final determination of a case regarding excessive noise nuisance on November 11, 2011.

The church, located on the Spintex Road but with headquarters in Kumasi and headed by Reverend Ebenezer Adarkwa-Yiadom, popularly known as Opambour, aka Prophet One, is also alleged to be operating without a permit from the AMA.

Briefing the Daily Graphic in Accra, the Public Health Prosecutor of the AMA, Ms Linda Kumbuno, stated that her office received numerous complaints from residents of Flower Pot along the Spintex Road regarding what they described as ‘unbearable noise’ from the worship centre.

“The department received several complaints, some addressed to the Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr Alfred Vanderpuije, others through telephone calls to the Metro Health Director, Dr Simpson Anim Boateng, as well as visits to the department by affected persons,” she said.

Ms Kumbuno said when the complaints became incessant, officials from the department decided to visit the church on February 22, 2010, during which they detected the noise level to be 88.5 decibels, whereas the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines required a maximum noise level of 48 decibels in the night for residential areas.

She said following the detection, the AMA consequently dragged the church to court and the church’s Head Pastor in Accra, Mr Richard Newman, first appeared in court on August 25, 2010, accompanied by his counsel, Mr Sam Woode, who pleaded for his client and was granted a GH¢7,000 bail with two sureties.

According to Ms Kumbuno, the case was adjourned to September 2, 2010 and had since been adjourned several times until September 27, 2011 when she applied for an injunction to be placed on the church to restrain it from holding any church activities, both on Sunday and weekdays, until the final determination of the case.

The effects of noise on the health of people are dire, ranging from hearing impairment or deafness, hypertension, sleeplessness, mental disorder and even abortion.

Health experts indicate that exposure to excessive noise can cause hearing loss, explaining that hearing loss occurs when noise above permissible decibels hurts the cells in the inner ear, resulting in permanent damage.

If this happens, one would have to use hearing aid, since it cannot be corrected. The danger is that hearing loss due to excessive noise is not associated with any pain so one may not realise the effect till hearing is permanently lost.

Noise pollution also affects other parts of the body and body systems. It has been established by audiologists that excessive noise can induce ischemic heart disease, hypertension, vasoconstriction and other cardiovascular impacts.

It is also known to induce premature ejaculation. There are also studies that have attributed some birth defects to exposure of pregnant women to excessive noise, though the evidence is limited.

Noise also makes speech communication harder. More concentration and energy is needed not only to listen and hear over the noise but also speak louder above the noise.

As a result, voices can be strained and vocal cord abuses, such as laryngitis, develop. It is a physical strain to carry on even an enjoyable conversation in the presence of noise.