Drivers in Kenya warned over pollution

April 14, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 14 – Motorists whose vehicles produce harmful emissions have up to next month to repair their cars or face the law, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) declared on Tuesday.

NEMA’s Provincial Director of Environment for Nairobi Betty Nzioka said it would soon be compulsory for all vehicle owners to service their cars and ensure they do not contaminate the environment once a draft law on air pollution was approved by the AG. She did not disclose what legal action those found disregarding the proposed Act would face.

According to the management authority, once the directive is gazzetted, industries will also have to regulate and reduce their gas emissions in accordance with the new environmental directive.

“The proposed law was submitted together with the noise law but it was sent back with a few amendments here and there prompting the AG to release the noise (pollution) one first.  The small corrections that were sent back to NEMA have already been taken care of and as soon as it is published you and I will have to test our cars. We hope it can be published so that it can ensure vehicles are in good working condition,” she said.

Speaking after a workshop to educate drivers and conductors on the Noise and Excessive Vibrations Pollution Control Regulation (2009) Ms Nzioka said the move was expected to improve the quality of air in the country and reduce the amount of harmful gases emitted to the atmosphere.

She added that the directive once passed, would also help the country explore ways in which pollution from burning fossil fuels could be reduced.

“We drafted the Air Pollution Control Regulation so as to limit air pollution. It will also emphasise and strengthen the noise regulation law because noise is also an air pollutant and it will look towards ensuring that industries embrace clean technologies,” she said.

The environment management body also announced that it would next week conduct free ear screening for conductors and drivers of public service vehicles. NEMA also maintained that the noise regulating law still exists and would be enforced and urged Kenyans to comply so as to avoid legal action. 

“We will be taking a sample of people to the public health lab for them to get a voluntary examination so that we can show that excessive noise over a long time truly affects hearing which is a health issue. It is not like we want people to reduce noise so that we interfere with their business; we just want to have a clean and healthy environment,” she said.

She also said that the noise levels in Nairobi and other major cities had reduced significantly and quashed allegations that NEMA had been silent in its endeavors to promote environmental conservation. 

“NEMA is very happy with the response that we have so far. We have seen a deliberate reduction in noise levels in the capital city, in Mombasa and Kisumu since we started our campaigns. We have even taken some people to court over their failure to adhere to the noise regulating law,” she said. 

Those with social functions that are likely to generate noise are required to apply and pay for a noise license (from NEMA) at a total cost of Sh2,200. The license is valid for seven days. A fine of up to Sh350,000 is to be charged on those found guilty of noise pollution.

According to NEMA commercial areas have the highest noise levels standing at about 40 decibels during the day and 35 during the night while noise levels in residential areas are much lower. NEMA has also had consultative meetings with various stakeholders including religious bodies to sensitise them on the need for noise reduction. 

She reminded Kenyans that the environment issue was broad with various categories which all required adequate attention: “We tackle issues to deal with land; issues to deal with water pollution and issues with air pollution which is a very wide area. We must ensure that all these aspects are addressed.”

Ms Nzioka however declined to respond to a question on what the management authority was doing about the Dandora dump site.


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