Fuel emissions from vehicles rank among the worst air pollutants. Transportation is the largest single source of air pollution globally leading to climate change.
The key greenhouse gases associated with road transport are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).
Nonetheless, most motorists drive through roads not aware of the impact of exhaust fumes on the environment and people’s health.
In an effort to address the problem, Rwanda National Police (RNP) and Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) launched a campaign on Wednesday to further raise awareness on air pollution and control vehicle emissions.
Eng. Colleta Ruhamya, the Director General of REMA, speaking at the event, held at the Motor-vehicle Inspection Centre (MIC) in Remera, Gasabo District, said that the Government remains committed to fighting air pollution.
“Protecting the environment is a national policy, and that includes ensuring that all automobiles are emission free, planting trees and fighting use of plastic bags. It’s all about behavioural change; if you are a driver take your vehicle for emission inspection and every Rwandan should make planting of trees in their environs a culture,” Ruhamya said.
Air pollution is a leading environmental threat to human health. It is estimated that more than 90 percent of people globally breathe polluted air and approximately seven million people die from air pollution-related causes every year.
Pollution in the air is now the fourth-highest cause of death worldwide, trailing smoking, high blood pressure and diet related diseases. Majority of these deaths are recorded in poorer countries.
Commissioner of Police (CP) Rafiki Mujiji, the commissioner for Traffic and Road Safety department, said that MIC services also include testing emissions.
“When MIC started in 2008, it focused entirely on mechanical issues such as wheel balance and alignment, suspensions, brakes, axle play, headlights as well as visual inspection; it was all about road safety and preventing accidents resulting from mechanical faults,” Mujiji said.
“In 2013, we took a step further to implement the national policy on environment and we acquired emission testers... for a vehicle to be certified as roadworthy it also has to pass the emission test,” he added.
The Remera-based MIC currently has three emission testing devices, but CP Mujiji said that RNP has also acquired mobile device testers that will be used on highways.
“It will no longer be six months or one year period for the automobile to be brought back for mechanical inspection so as to test emission as well; with the acquisition of the mobile devices, if a vehicle is found above the emission limits the owner will be required to fix the problem even if the mechanical inspection is still valid,” Mujiji said.
He noted that the ongoing 52 weeks of road safety involves both preventing accidents and fight vehicle emission.
The campaign falls within the National Environment Week and comes ahead of the World Environment Day (WED) observed every June 5.
The National Environment Week held under the theme “Beat Air Pollution” also include operations and inspection against plastic pollution as well as solar power installation for the reduction of indoor pollution to be conducted in partnership with RNP.
There will also be a seminar with scientist working in Rwanda, industrial air pollution testing, a high level dialogue on strategies to fight pollution and awards in recognition of projects and initiatives that focus on air pollution management.
The awards recognise best practices and innovation in beating air pollution by districts, small and medium sized companies in the private sector, higher learning institutions and technical and vocational education and training schools, as well as the media.