Govt to rein in on cars with toxic emissions

Vehicles that emit high concentrates of dangerous gases will, in the near future, not be permitted on Rwandan roads as a measure against air pollution that may have adverse effects on people and the environment.
Motorists have been urged to be more responsible with regard to their vehicles.  Saturday Times/File.
Motorists have been urged to be more responsible with regard to their vehicles. Saturday Times/File.

Vehicles that emit high concentrates of dangerous gases will, in the near future, not be permitted on Rwandan roads as a measure against air pollution that may have adverse effects on people and the environment.

But this will be a gradual process, officials said this week.

“Much as we would love people to import only new cars with very low levels of gas emission, we know it is not cheap and, therefore, many people will always rely on second hand cars in Rwanda, just like in other developing economies,” the Minister for Natural Resources (Minirena), Stanislas Kamanzi, said on Thursday.

“However, what we are calling for is responsibility. Every car owner should be careful as to when their car is due for servicing because not doing this not only affects the vehicle, but also our environment,” he said.

Statistics from Minirena indicate that in 2005, vehicles contributed to 52 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Rwanda.

No single car has been impounded or stopped from accessing the transport system due to emitting worrying levels of gases by the Police eventhough the Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) set standards on air pollution for industries and cars.

This is because police has no equipment to monitor and measure car emissions on the road, according to the Police Commissioner for Traffic and Road Safety, Felly Bahizi.

The budget

“We have impounded about 40 cars with terrible mechanical conditions but not on the grounds of emitting toxic gases. We are, however, working with Minirena and RBS on acquiring machines that our traffic officers can use; so soon, we shall be able to impound such cars,” Bahizi said.

According to Rose Mukankomeje, the Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), Rwf650 million is earmarked to protect the environment against pollution, including purchasing gas emission analysers this financial year.

“We are working with Police and RBS and are on course to introducing these mobile analysers that will facilitate traffic officers in carrying out roadside emission tests on cars and motorcycles,” Mukankomeje said

She was, however, quick to highlight that the state of the environment in Rwanda is “nothing to worry about” and that the development is aimed at protecting Rwandans against consequences of pollutions in the long run.

Latest statistics show that Rwanda’s traffic has over 60,000 vehicles and out of these, 80 per cent circulate inside Kigali.

Simphorien Kamanzi, the vice president of Iark Consessioner, a car importing company, said many investors in the trade are cautious about the cars they import.

“We look at the mechanical condition as well as the levels of emissions of the cars. May be the government should start looking at the age and model of the cars imported in the country and if they say they don’t want us to import a certain model, then we will adhere to the regulations,” Kamanzi said.

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