Close to half of Zimbabwe`s diesel vehicle engines are emitting dangerous fumes that exceed the stipulated exhaust emission levels, the country`s environmental watchdog has said.
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) is currently carrying out an exercise to enforce adherence to vehicular exhaust emissions limits. The exercise involves smoke opacity testing of diesel engines at police roadblocks.
About forty percent of vehicles tested through the agency`s survey and compliance testing were found to be emitting smoke exceeding the required limit, according to the agency`s Environmental Inspector Air Quality Section Givemore Handizvihwe.
“The survey and the compliance tests that we are conducting now we are realising that about 40 percent of the diesel engines are failing to meet the stipulated exhaust emissions… That is to say, close to half of Zimbabwe`s diesel engines are polluting the environment, leading to detrimental health impacts and detrimental environmental effects,”
Handizvihwe said vehicle emissions that have a lot of harmful pollutants are contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer and trigger climate-related disasters such as extreme weather events. He said the agency is checking vehicles for compliance along the country`s highways and enforcing the relevant legislation.
“We are here today along the highway between Kwekwe and Gweru. We are doing compliance inspections with regard to vehicular exhaust emissions, that is, to say there is legislation as provided with section 68 of the Environmental Management Act and as read with Statutory Instrument 72 of 2009.”
According to Handizvihwe, the agency is taking “legal action” against vehicles that failed to meet the required levels.
“Practically, we put the equipment at the exhaust, we take the readings, then we take legal action from there if the vehicle is exceeding the stipulated limit. It`s an offence to drive or to operate a vehicle with emissions above the stipulated limit as read with Statutory Instrument 72 of 2009”, he said.
EMA`s Gweru District Environmental Officer Timothy Nyoka said the agency is also targeting those transporting hazardous substances.
“We are not only targeting vehicular emissions, but we are also looking at those who are into the transportation of hazardous substances. Transportation of hazardous substances in terms of our regulations, the EMA Act and its Statutory Instruments requires a transportation license,” said Nyoka.
He added that those without the transportation licenses from EMA would be fined on the spot. Nyoka said the operation also targeted those transporting firewood for compliance purposes.
“We are not only looking at hazardous substances transport, but we are also looking at other environmental issues like firewood transportation. We check if they have a license from the relevant authority, which is, Forestry Commission (of Zimbabwe).
If they don`t have, we also issue tickets in terms of EMA regulations. We are also checking for litter bins in transport conveyances, be it buses, be it kombis and so forth.”
He said the public and businesses should comply with all environmental regulations.