Don't breathe

One of the challenges of living in Nairobi in 2006 is the air pollution. We frequently have headaches from the diesel smoke that is part of nearly any weekday drive across town. On some roads, evening rush hour lasts from 4-8 pm.

I know that just about all you readers out there living in an urban setting face rush hour. But when government standards for air quality are basically non-existent, there is a huge difference. Someone said that the air quality here is 38 times worse than the acceptable level in North America. (I haven't taken time to track down the original source.)

Another significant reason for bad air here is that the roads have about four times the number of cars they were designed to carry. So traffic crawls at a snail's pace all day long. Vehicles sit, belching out combusted (and non-combusted) fuel rather than spending it to get somewhere.

The national government announced that it will be enforcing some standards, soon, but as always, enforcement on such things is selective and sporadic. "Selective" boils down to many policemen accepting bribes to let an offender off the hook.

About three months ago, the government announced that leaded gasoline would no longer be produced or sold. Has that happened? No. In many rural areas, the only gas available is leaded.

There was alcohol breath testing for about a month. Then local lawyers shot it down.

(By the way, this image is custom-made via ImageChef.)

Comments

Chris said…
I'm really glad you disclaimered that sign. I thought, "whoa." You really MUST be doomed to see a sign like that.
Omar Basawad said…
One of the best news, if not the best, I have heard coming from there in a long time is that - now: smoking cigarettes in all public places is legally unlawful!

As for air pollution from autos - that will take immense work and resolve. To construct enough roads around Nairobi, will need a huge amount of money and resources - which the Kenyan government doesn't seem to have.And with the kind of some corrupt officials who run the country - any kind of relief, will have to wait!

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