Local motor vehicle assemblers are under pressure to produce trucks and buses with lower emissions after the government published new standards that seek to restrict environmental pollution.
The new rules contained in the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KS 1515: 2019) has seen the country adopt Euro 4 emissions levels, replacing the more lenient measures that had been in place since 2000.
The old standard simply capped the concentration of carbon monoxide at a volume of 0.5 percent while that of hydrocarbons stood at 0.12 percent or 1,200 parts per million (ppm).
The Euro 4 standard has stricter and more comprehensive limits on the emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.
Nitrogen oxides, for instance, are capped at 0.25 grammes per kilogramme for light commercial vehicles with diesel engines. These types of vehicles are also to emit carbon monoxide at a maximum rate of 0.5 grammes per kilogramme.
Heavy-duty trucks and buses are to produce carbon monoxide at a maximum rate of 1.5 grammes per kilowatthour (kWh) while their emissions of nitrogen oxides are capped at 3.5 grammes per kWh.
The new standard also notes that the “exhaust shall not emit dense blue or clearly visible black smoke.”
Transport accounts for about 53 percent of emissions from fuel combustion in Kenya, according to the latest estimates from the World Bank. Motor vehicle emissions have been linked to respiratory illnesses besides global warming.
Players in the local motor vehicle assembly, however, said that the industry is far from complying with the Euro 4 standards.
“It will take a long time to comply with the new emissions standards. The industry and the government needs to discuss and agree on reasonable timelines,” said one source.
Some of the actions required of the manufacturers include fitting their vehicles with particulate filters. This is expected to raise their costs which they are expected to pass on to buyers.
Kenya and most other African countries are lagging behind in controlling vehicle emissions. European countries, for instance, are currently applying the more stringent Euro 6 standards, having abandoned Euro 4 in 2009. The Euro 6 system introduced additional technologies for cleaning exhaust fumes.
Most vehicles that cannot meet increasingly tighter environmental regulations in developed markets are exported to Africa and other emerging economies.