Attorney-at-law Senator Wilfred Abrahams is calling on policymakers to enact legislation to punish drivers of vehicles that emit thick plumes of black smoke on the island’s roads.
Stating that it was not only ZR vans and minibuses that belched thick black smoke, Abrahams said it seemed there was “a system where nobody actually cares what their [vehicle] spits out behind it.
“I have driven behind some vehicles where I have had to pull off the road because I literally could not see, that I swear the person in front of me was burning wet coals to power their vehicle,” Abrahams said as he contributed to the debate on the Offshore Petroleum (Amendment) Bill 2017 in the Senate on Wednesday afternoon.
“We should have, as a country, a zero tolerance approach to excessive emissions. We do not seem to take it seriously. If the police see a car on the road that is spitting out smoke, you may not be able to measure it in a quantitative way but you know if it is bellowing black smoke. That should be illegal [and] you pull them off. That vehicle needs to go to MTW [Ministry of Transport and Works] to be inspected and if it is outing black smoke it should not be on the road and that person should get a fine for that,” the Opposition senator suggested.
He said while ZR vans were easy targets for such a policy, all private and commercial vehicles should come under the same scrutiny, adding that the exhaust could be considered a danger to pedestrians and other motorists.
“It should be off the road. I am asking when we are looking at legislation let us look at that, not just for passage but for enforcement because we need to cut it out. It is not good enough,” he insisted.
Minister with responsibility for energy Senator Darcy Boyce said while this was a matter for the Ministry of Transport, he was confident Government had been taking steps to lessen the troubling exhaust.
“We have, during the last three years, introduced ultra low sulphur diesel to be able to reduce the emission that we get from the diesel vehicles . . . and we have been looking at changing the additive in gasoline. We shall get back to that very shortly, maybe using ethanol instead of what we now used, which is a much harsher chemical and we shall get that done relatively soon to make sure the gasoline itself is cleaner,” Boyce
Research has shown that the fumes from some engines caused various illnesses, including lung cancer.
Exhaust is made up of a several chemicals compounds including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen dioxide, as well as traces of metallic compounds.