The disturbing cacophony of honking in Bangladesh

Noise pollution on the pulsating streets of Dhaka is impacting the health and well-being of the capital’s residents

Dipendronath Das
Published : 18 May 2023, 01:45 PM
Updated : 18 May 2023, 01:45 PM

Walking down the bustling streets of Dhaka, I’m met with the blaring of horns from vehicles of all sizes. Noise pollution has reached alarming levels in many countries, including Bangladesh. The incessant honking, a sign of impatience and insensitivity, is now a part of our daily lives, often leading to devastating consequences for our physical and mental health.

As a child, I remember the relative serenity of our neighbourhood. You could hear the laughter of children playing and birds chirping over the distant hum of passing vehicles. But nowadays, that serenity is shattered by relentless noise from engines, hydraulic horns, and other blasts of sound. Frankly, these disturbances are harming our quality of life.

I recently spoke to a friend who has persistent headaches and trouble concentrating at work. She shared her daily struggles as a victim of noise pollution. Her once tranquil home is now besieged by the neverending noise of nearby traffic. In addition to the increased stress, anxiety, and sleep issues, she also worries that constant exposure to high decibel levels could eventually lead to severe hearing problems.

The harmful effects of noise pollution may also put pregnant women and their children at risk, experts say. Very loud noise can damage the hearing of the developing baby, which highlights the need for immediate action.

As a society, we must recognise our role in this growing issue. We must reconsider our casual attitudes and impatience on the road, which lead to excessive honking. Motorists must be educated on the negative impacts of noise pollution and how simple measures, such as being more mindful and respectful of other road users, can make a significant difference.

It is essential that authorities also take a more proactive role in addressing the problem. This includes stricter implementation and enforcement of traffic laws, better traffic management, and more organised campaigns to remove hydraulic horns from buses and trucks. We cannot rely on occasional drives to seize these horns – a more comprehensive and sustained effort is necessary.

It is time we unite as a community to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of noise pollution. By understanding and taking responsibility for our actions, we can help restore a more harmonious urban environment we would be proud to call home.

As I walk through the city, I start to think about how much the soundscape has changed since my childhood. I hope that, through collective effort, we can once again reclaim our streets and neighborhoods as havens of peace, away from the dissonant symphony of honking horns and engines currently dominating our lives.

This article is part of Stripe,'s special publication focusing on culture and society from a youth perspective.