Here is what I found.( mostly from Africa Environment Outlook )
West Africa has one of the largest markets for the used cars. 84% of the cars in Dakar are imported; therefore, they are old. The average age of vehicles in Dakar is approximately 15 years for cars and 20 years for buses. On top of that, most of the imported European cars have diesel engine, which have particularly toxic emissions, but also many owners replace the petrol engines after importation with diesel engines because diesel is cheaper than petrol. More than 40% of the cars in Senegal have diesel engines. Even when the cars use petrol, often dirty fuel is used because of the poor economic development.
|Inside of typical taxi by Elizabeth Vincelette|
The quality of the car, engine or fuel isn’t the only problem. The West African big cities such as Dakar, Bamako or Lagos have the world largest population growth rate; due to the rapid urbanization, there wasn’t enough time for adequate urban-planning. Most of the time, residential and commercial centers are far apart forcing people to commute by vehicles daily. This car exhaust raises emission level significantly. The concentration of economic activities also encourages industrial air pollution. See how chaotic the city traffic is.
|No traffic light whatsoever.|
Air pollution is not only bad for the environment but also for the health. I was glad to find that the Senegal Ministry of Environment has stepped up and introduced regulations to provide cleaner air: 1) stricter requirements for importation 2) air quality monitoring stations around Dakar.
I don’t quite know how to conclude this. It took me forever to decide what to include and what not to include in this journal about “air pollution” because it seems like everything is intertwined together. Nothing is one single simple issue. Everything is more complicated and complex issue than what it seems, what I know and what I think.
I just hope that one day, my friends in Dakar could breathe fresh air.