July 13 (Metro Manila, Philippines):
A group of NGOs working collectively towards better air quality management in the Philippines namely the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities Center (CAI-Asia Center), Coalition of Clean Air Advocates (CCAA) and Partnership for Clean Air (PCA) prodded the new administration to strengthen the inspection and maintenance system of public utility vehicles and take the rolling coffins off the road.
While their advocacy is primarily to promote clean air, these organizations are lobbying for the strict implementation of the Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS) that should foster efficient and road-worthy public transport system. The high incidence of road accidents involving public utility vehicles reflects this implementation gap. They maintain that the government should have better controls in safeguarding the commuting general public who are most exposed to safety and health hazards posed by poorly maintained and smoke-belching public utility vehicles.
According to studies collected by the CAI-Asia Center, generally, air quality in Asia is slowly improving but is still far above the limits set by the World Health Organization. “Each year, air pollution kills over half a million of us across Asia and causes respiratory and cardiovascular problems for millions more. Health costs and lost productivity can wipe out up to 4 percent of gross domestic product. Implementing simple measures would cost much less,” says Glynda Bathan, Policy and Partnerships Manager of CAI-Asia Center based in Manila.
During a public hearing organized by the Land Transportation Office, representatives of transport organizations in the metro expressed that the government will be hard-pressed to find a fleet of public utility buses or jeepneys that would pass the emission standards set under the Clean Air Act upon inspection. The maintenance component of motor vehicles should therefore be emphasized.
Simple measures are what CAI-Asia, PCA and CCAA are proposing to the new Government under Aquino. An automotive technology expert, Alex Loinaz, from the Coalition of Clean Air Advocates presented some simple and low-cost technologies that would reap immense environmental and safety benefits if implemented. To prevent smoke belching of public utility vehicles, CCAA suggests regular preventive maintenance and sealing of the injection pump to address the issue of tampering. Another low-cost measure is to re-install the thermostat to ensure that the engine reaches efficient operating temperature. The thermostat, although part of the original manufacture of motor vehicles, is commonly removed due to the misconception that this device is not necessary in a tropical country. Contrary to this popular belief, however, a thermostat is especially needed for diesel engines as it helps ignite the diesel fuel more efficiently which then translates to at least 10% fuel savings simply because less energy is required, says Loinaz.
CAI-Asia Center, Coalition of Clean Air Advocates and PCA agree that Filipinos deserve better air quality and cleaner vehicles, particularly public utility vehicles that value PUBLIC SAFETY and are ROAD-WORTHY and SMOKE-FREE. As one of the most basic services that the Government provides to its people, providing a safe and efficient mass transport system for Filipinos should be right up the alley of the President’s pledge of no more anarchy on our streets (“wang-wang” included).
For media queries, please contact
Vicky Segovia, Partnership for Clean Air (PCA)
Tel: 395-2843 & 45