This week Gaborone City Council (GCC) revocated and labelled the permit issued to the Hamptons Promoters on February 9, 2018 by their Bye Law officer as erroneous.
The Council stated that they have no authority to issue permits on loud music beyond midnight unless the event is to be held in a soundproof facility or in an isolated area.
This came as a shock because the Bye Law division is responsible for the issuance of permits, being Noise and Nuisance permits, as required by the Noise and Nuisance Bye-laws.
The Noise and Nuisance permit is free of charge. A noise and nuisance permit is a permit given to a customer who intends to play an audio or sound-producing instrument for entertainment, private parties, political rallies, public announcement and others.
The GCC has advised the organisers of the Hamptons festival to seek assistance from the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development regarding their request for a permit to operate beyond midnight.
But the ministry’s Arts and Culture division only issues permits for non-resident entertainers performing temporarily in Botswana.
In this case, it is foreign artists Billy Ocean and Salif Keita, who will headline the Hamptons Jazz Festival on March 23, that could be referred to the ministry, not the festival.
This issue of soundproof facilities as an alternative to noise reduction has never been raised before and late last year shows like St Louis Fresh Festival and Fables’ Tekno were successfully hosted at Duma
Botswana doesn’t have such venues and even the National Stadium has hosted big events such as GIMC and Tlatsa Lebala.
Perhaps University of Botswana state-of-the-art Campus Indoor Sports Centre is the only closest thing we have to a soundproof facility, excluding nightclubs of course.
These entertainment venues can be noisy places with high performance sound reproduction equipment, but this soundproof issue never came up.
Most of these venues do not have sound absorption and reduction technology typically installed to walls and ceilings.
The government has been preaching about the need to build state-of-the-art entertainment arenas for years, but promoters still use the same stadia and open fields which cannot contain both the noise from speakers and the noise generated by people’s conversations during a music festival.
Now that this Hamptons soundproof issue has been brought to surface, music venues are under increasing pressure to restrict noise levels.
The government must build high-level recreational centres or force renovations to avoid sound leaks.
Soundproof keeps sound from getting in, and keeps sound from getting out, but for an industry that does not make that much money, this is complicated and costly for entertainers.
“A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.”