Kenya is working on a framework to phase out the importation of motorcycles with two-stroke engines, which are said to pollute the environment due to incomplete combustion of fuel.
There were 115,451 motorcycles registered in Kenya in 2014, compared with other automobiles at 102,606. Almost all motorcycles imported into Kenya have two-stroke engines, and most are used for public transport.
The Ministry of Energy is working with other government arms to develop a roadmap to phase them out.
The Draft National Energy and Petroleum Policy calls for phasing out importing of two-stroke motorcycles, enforcing emission standards with air quality regulations and testing of automobiles for exhaust emissions.
The United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) and the Energy Regulatory Commission said two-stroke engine motorcycles are the single biggest contributors to air pollution in Kenya.
Two-stroke motorcycles currently cost $784, while four-stroke motorcycles cost 20 per cent more.
Kenya is facing the challenge of whether to ban two-stroke bikes because it could stoke protests.
Unep executive director Achim Steiner said the increase in the number of motorcycles was a big boost to Kenya’s economy.
He said Kenyans need to adopt electric powered motorcycles to reduce the level of air pollution. Electric motor cycles cost about $980.
Kenya’s Environment Cabinet Secretary Judy Wakhungu said thousands of Nairobi residents are regularly exposed to elevated concentrations of fine particle air pollution, posing a long term health risk.
She said the government has formulated air quality regulations to control emissions by vehicles, as stipulated by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) legal provisions of 2014, to mitigate the effects.
Kebs offers pre-export inspection of used vehicles to determine whether they conform to the regulations.
Unep chief scientist Jacqueline McGlade said some areas in Nairobi have a high concentration of poisonous gases that have adverse effects on humans and on the environment.
“This is as a result of incomplete combustion in car engines. The situation is worsened by traffic jams that concentrate the pollution in one area. Climate change and global warming are precipitating factors,” she said.