Traffic Jams, traditional jikos, and industries kills 14,000 Kenyans yearly

At least five million Kenyans living in major urban centres are directly exposed to toxic emissions, mainly from motor vehicles, industries and kerosene.

 

Of these, 14,000 Kenyans die annually from pollution-related illnesses such as respiratory ailments, heart diseases, brain damage and cancers.

“In several cities around the world, people have to wear breathing masks to protect themselves from pollution. Masks have become part of their wardrobes. We do not want this country to go down that road. We want to make sure every breath we take matters,” Environment PS Charles Sunkuli said while speaking at the workshop on air quality management and coordination in Naivasha last Friday.

Imported second hand vehicles and frequent traffic jams in urban areas, along with poor vehicle maintenance have exacerbated the air pollution problem in the country.

In rural areas the situation is even scarier, many household rely on wood and kerosene for cooking and lighting, which are the leading causes of Asthma and other respiratory complications.

Globally the number of deaths is at all-time high, each year, environmental risks such as indoor and outdoor pollution, second-hand smoke, unsafe water and poor sanitation kill around 1.7 million children between the ages of one month and five years, the latest World Health Organization reports published on Monday indicated.

An estimated 570,000 children under five die each year from respiratory infections such as pneumonia, which are attributable to air pollution and second-hand smoke, the reports found.

Sunkuli said the ministry will form an interministerial task force to work on procedures for emission testing for land, air, and sea transport.

Locally communities can be encouraged to switch to better efficient ‘modern Jikos’ which is less toxic to the environment and to themselves.

The government can also step in by formulating watertight policies such as better management of Kenyan roads to avoid traffic jams, discourage complete relies of personal cars for daily use to reduce number of wheels on the Kenyan roads and finally impose huge fines for second hand vehicles more than eight years brought into the country though other countries such as Uganda and South Sudan.

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