The vehicle, lovingly called the ‘Black Mamba’, is one of, if not, my most prized possession. It was a graduation gift from the Old Man and it was the very first car I actually drove (other than the driving school vehicle whose clutch I destroyed). It has taken me up and down these fair hills and it has not let me down as often as it should have, bearing in mind its age and my penchant for not servicing it regularly.
The car, in my humble opinion, is a cool customer, with its black paint and tinted windows. The only issue with it is that you can see me coming a mile away. Not because of how big it is, rather because of the exhaust smoke that it emits when it is going up a hill. For you see, it has a diesel engine and as any ‘motorhead’ will tell you, diesel isn’t a very clean burning fuel. Adding a dirty fuel to an engine that was assembled in 1996 is a recipe for disaster.
I would have kept driving the car, blissfully polluting all and sundry, in the knowledge that I wasn’t breaking any rules. That is, until someone emailed me a copy of the Emission’s Law. What!? Was there even an emissions law? Yes dear readers, there is. Officially known as the ‘Prime Minister’s Instruction’s N°005/03 OF 27/12/2013 Preventing Air Pollution by Vehicular Emissions and Machines using Petroleum Products in Rwanda, this law, which comes into effect in exactly two months, should be read by everybody because it affects us all.
For example, those who import motorcycles for sale will not be able to import used motorcycles. They will have to be brand new. Those importing them for personal use will have to import ones that were manufactured within the last five years.
Those taking their cars to the ‘Controle Technique’ center in Remera will have another thing to fret about other than their car’s shoddy body work and wonky suspensions. They will also be testing the car’s exhaust emission, making sure that it doesn’t exceed the levels set by the Rwanda Bureau of Standards (don’t ask what level that is because I don’t think they have come up with a figure-someone asked for me). And if you are operating a commercial vehicle like a ominibus you’ll have to get an emissions permit twice a year unlike everyone else who will have to suffer the process once a year.
By the way, have you ever heard of a catalytic converter? Well, you better. Because the law states that all cars imported into Rwanda have to have one and all vehicles in the country have to have one installed as well.
This new law has me sweating. Not because I don’t care about the air I breathe. Rather I’m sweating, trying to figure out how I will be able to get a new catalytic converter in two months. It’s not like you can walk into a Nakumatt and pick one off the shelf. Someone will have to import it from God knows where. It’s already hard enough to get normal spares for the ‘Mamba’. I will either have to park the car or keep using it and risk innumerable fines.
So, all I can ask is, why didn’t someone inform us of this new set of rules? I found out that there was a campaign to sensitize people a while back about car emissions but I have to ask, if I, a newsman, didn’t know about the law coming into effect, who has?
The lack of proper campaigns to inform people about new regulations is real weakness in my opinion. I suspect that various offices think that calling media to cover a single event is what they deem a ‘campaign’. I must disabuse them on this notion. A ‘campaign’ worthy of its name is long term and constantly engages and educates those it aims to inform. This article is my bit for this rather shoddy campaign and I hope it is appreciated.
So, if you see my walking in the hot sunshine or getting drenched in a rain shower, please don’t hesitate to give me a ride. I will much appreciate it.