Air pollution from vehicles is a real danger to health, but we all know that cars are not going away anytime soon. Polluted air from vehicles and industries is responsible for more than 2.1 million deaths every year worldwide. Considering the consequences, countries and communities made efforts to reduce the impacts of air pollution, as societies continue to develop and industrialize.
Europe has adopted ‘Euro 6,’ an advanced standard in allowed car emissions that limits the amount of carbon dioxide a car can emit. In Rwanda, conditions are still lenient, adhering to the use of ‘Euro 3,’ the standard in Europe in the year 2000.
Reasons for the gap in standards are obvious. Rwanda is among least developed countries, lagging behind Europe in technology and economy, and unable to adhere to strictest standards.
More than 90% of the vehicles in Rwanda are second hand. With older cars come higher emissions, and the resulting consequence on the environment.
But Rwanda can still fight air pollution and vehicle emissions in other ways.
Car emissions can be reduced through regular vehicle inspections. The standards of the vehicles working and entering Rwanda should not emit over 0.015% mass-by-mass (m/m) lead and 50 parts per million (ppm) sulfur.
This is a shift from the previous standard of 500ppm sulfur, according to Raymond Murenzi, the head of environmental standards in Rwanda Bureau of Standards.
Efforts made to facilitate the environmental management include a budget of Frw 650 million to purchase gas emission analyzers, according to Dr. Rose Mukankomeje, the Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA).
According to chief superintendant Felly Bahizi Rutagerura, the commissioner of traffic and road safety, Rwanda counted over 60,000 cars, 80% of them based in Kigali city, in 2011.
He said that the national police will increase inspections to ensure that all vehicles meet the required standards.
However, many vehicles owners not fully informed on the new standards can estimate what a fit vehicle is without understanding the scientific requirements.