In a bid to control air pollution in Zimbabwe, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) is proposing new amendments to current vehicle emissions legislation, according to Steady Kangata, EMA Environmental Education and Publicity Manager.
Kangata told journalists during a recent media tour that the levels of air pollution especially in the major cities were reaching alarming proportions and were becoming worrisome.
He says pollution in Zimbabwe has gone beyond World Health Organization (WHO) prescribed limits compromising people’s health.
The new (2005) guidelines apply worldwide and are based on expert evaluation of current scientific evidence. They recommend revised limits for the concentration of selected air pollutants: particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), applicable across all WHO regions.
A report produced by the Institute of Environmental Studies (IES) on the proposed National Climate Change Response Strategy in Zimbabwe has revealed that there is increasing evidence of deteriorating air quality in the country’s main cities.
The IES, a department of the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) was contracted by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management to come up with a national climate change response strategy for Zimbabwe.
The strategy report says that studies conducted by the Air Pollution Information Network for Africa show that carbon monoxide constituted 74% of Zimbabwe’s total emissions using 2000 as the base year and was mostly from savanna and vegetation burning including forest fires.
Kangata says the major causes of air pollution in Zimbabwe’s cities are from stationery and fixed sources especially from industrial power plants and mobile sources in particular vehicles.
“These are controlled under the current EMA Cap 20:27 legal instrument and the atmospheric control regulations SI 72 of 2009,” he said.
These are said to provide for emissions standards and licensing regimes.
He adds that under the current legislation, the EMA conducts subjective assessments at road blocks to check on vehicle emissions levels.
The country is reported to be witnessing an influx in the inflow of second hand vehicles making it necessary to carry out periodic emissions assessments, according to Kangata.
“We have about 800 000 vehicles in the country and these are increasing on a daily basis.On a yearly basis, we are seeing 14 100 second hand vehicles coming into the country.If emissions are not controlled, air pollution will continue to increase,” Kangata said.
He also said this will have an adverse impact on people’s health, especially those with respiratory infections and contributes negatively to climate change.
Also there are reports of increase in the content of sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere in Harare which Kangata said is being attributed to uncontrolled air pollution.
He says the proposed legislative amendments will see all new vehicles in the country undergoing periodic emissions assessments before use on the country’s roads and after every six months.
“Compliant motorists will be issued with licensing discs similar to normal vehicle discs provided by the Zimbabwe National Road Authority (ZINARA),” Kangata said.
He added that this will help to incentivise the public to go green.