Rema moves to tackle air pollution by cars

Friday August 02 2013

Imported second-hand cars are parked in a yard in Kigali. The government has warned importers that cars that exceed the permitted greenhouse emission levels will not be allowed into the country. Photo/Cyril Ndegeya

Any imported car, whether second-hand or new, that does not meet carbon emission standards will not be allowed in Rwanda, the government has warned.

The warning came as the country campaigns to conserve its greenhouse sector which, if not well controlled, might pose a danger to human health and destroy the Ozone layer.

Although there is no law in place  banning cars that emit huge volumes of carbon dioxide, authorities noted that inspections to weed out culprits of air pollution will begin soon.

The situation is not alarming at the moment.

However, according to the Rwanda Environmental and Management Authority (Rema), government forecasts suggest that total emissions of greenhouse gases might double by the year 2020, hence the need to act fast.

The campaign does not target second-hand imported cars only but also new cars because they too if poorly maintained can emit beyond the acceptable limits.


“Naturally, older cars are more likely to emit more pollutants than new ones, but the focus is now on emission levels,” said Dr Rose Mukankomeje, the director-general of Rema.

Regional effort

Dr Mukankomeje further stated that efforts need to be accelerated in order to adopt sustainable practices that promote preservation of the atmosphere, with emphasis put on the control of emissions from vehicles, irrespective of their year of manufacture.

The government plans comprehensive discussions and agreements with other regional countries regarding the matter, she added.

“Once a decision is taken at the regional level, Rwanda will have to enforce it,” Dr Mukankomeje said.

Rema reports reveal that air pollution attributed to vehicular emissions such as sulphur dioxide, especially in Kigali city, have been found to be exceeding the permissible standards at some periods of the year.

Mohammed Karangwa, a vehicle dealer who sells second-hand cars imported from Tanzania, said that the implications of the directive may negatively affect his business.

Effects of climate change

“Clients order different types of cars vis-a-vis their financial status,” he said. “It’s not that we are against the adopted policies, but let the government know that, when it is campaigning for self-employment, the private sector, including our businesses, needs to be given a wide range of opportunities.”

Africa continues to face numerous severe adverse effects of climate change, which hamper countries’ efforts to attain their development goals.

Rwanda has already introduced a range of low carbon options across many sectors, although it has relatively low greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2007, the East African Community’s Council of Ministers resolved to harmonise the age limit for vehicles imported into the region but, to date, the East African Standards Committee (EASC) is yet to reach a consensus on the issue.