The United Nations on Monday urged East African Community (EAC) countries to harmonize vehicle emission standards.
Rob de Jong, head of air quality and mobility unit at the UN Environment, told countries to phase off old vehicles that produce dirty fumes and instead promote zero emission vehicles.
“There is need to develop a harmonized approach to ensure that the region has safe and quality air,” de Jong told delegates attending EAC workshop on harmonization of vehicle emission standards.
De Jong said that the region need to have similar quality of fuel as is the case with Europe and other parts of the world that is fast changing in line with environmental conservation so the region can enjoy benefits of clean fuel.
He challenged delegates to push for the phase-off of used and old vehicles that pollute the air besides forcing owners to use lots of money in maintaining them.
Remy Duhuze, director of environmental regulation and pollution control at Rwanda Environmental Management Agency (REMA), suggested that all vehicles in the country undergo emission inspection to help prevent air pollution.
“The inspection is mandatory for all vehicles with commercial ones undergoing inspection twice within six months,” Duhuze noted.
He said that the country has developed vehicle import strategy, apply strict import regulations and has banned small seater-capacity buses.
Duhuze noted that Rwanda is developing new transport policy that is being informed by the ongoing feasibility study on green mobility.
“The Kigali Motor Vehicle Inspection Center and its satellite centers are equipped with emissions inspection equipment while the national police have also been given hand-held inspection gadgets,” he added.
The official noted that sulphur that is caused by vehicular emissions is of concern in Rwanda since it is the major pollutant. He said that in a study that was done in 2011 and 2018, sulphur leads, followed by Nitrogen oxides, particulate matter (PM10) and carbon monoxide.
Duhuze revealed that a standard imposing low sulphur fuel (less than 50 ppm) that was adopted by the EAC is already in force in Rwanda.
He attributed the state of pollution to failure to have motorcycles undergo inspection and the increasing traffic jam in major cities.
According to UN Environment, stringent emission standards are needed to reduce pollution by over 85 percent.
The UN environmental agency urges countries to avoid transport where necessary, shift to cleaner modes of transport and improve transport modes like cleaner cars and buses.