Kenya is yet to begin inspecting cars to ensure that exhaust emissions are not injurious to public health despite regulations being enacted in 2014.
The newly released 2017 Economic Survey reveals that last year, 19.9 million cases of respiratory diseases were reported in health facilities, a 63 per cent increase from the 12.2 million cases in 2012.
Vehicle exhaust emissions contain dangerous pollutants including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. Particulate matter from diesel has been proven to cause cancer, and the World Health Organisation estimates that particulate matter causes a quarter of all lung cancer deaths worldwide. The emissions also trigger asthma attacks.
Transport sector emissions are expected to increase about three times from 2010 to 2030, according to the National Climate Change Action Plan that was launched in 2013.
Emissions from vehicles also increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, accelerating global warming and climate change. In 2014, the transport sector accounted for more than half of all the carbon dioxide emissions Kenya produced, according to the World Bank.
A 2008 study on carbon dioxide by Mark Jacobson of Stanford University found that increased carbon dioxide resulted in more deaths from pollution.
The problem of diseases caused by pollution will only get more urgent as more vehicles are imported and assembled in the country. In 2012, Kenya had a total of about two million cars, and that number could rise to five million in 2030 and eight million by 2050 according to a report by the Energy Regulatory Commission.
CLEAN AIR REGULATIONS
Last year, 213,217 new registrations of motor vehicles were reported, a 23 per cent increase from 173,044 in 2012, according to the 2016 Economic Survey.
Newsplex obtained a draft copy of the Kenya standard for vehicle emissions testing, KS-1515, which is currently undergoing review. According to the Kenya Bureau of Standards, it is implemented by companies contracted by Kebs to provide inspection services outside the country before cars are shipped into Kenya. However, no inspection currently happens within the country.