Anti-Smog Fight Continues
EghtesadOnline: As part of Tehran Municipality’s unending fight against dirty air, over the past seven weeks half a million smog inducing vehicles have been fined for infringing traffic regulations.
Based on data released by the Tehran Vehicle Technical Inspection Bureau, since last November close to half a million vehicles have been fined at least once for breaking regulations declared by the TM’s Air Pollution Reduction scheme, Asr-e Khodro reported.
According to the APR plan launched by the municipality on Nov. 24 to help improve air quality, old and dilapidated vehicles are banned in the sprawling city and violators are fined.
All four and two-wheelers in the metropolis are required to go through mandatory inspections and receive technical conformity papers that confirm the vehicle meets all automotive and emission standards, according to Financial Tribune.
The APR plan of action so far has forced large numbers of car owners to have their vehicles checked or face consequences.
Navab Hosseini, the bureau chief says, “In Tehran close to 5,000 cars visit technical inspection centers every day.”
Since the APR scheme was launched, the auto inspection centers have been overwhelmed with motorists complaining about unusually long queues.
According to Pouria Mohammadian, head of the Transportation Office at the Interior Ministry, there are 700 auto inspection centers in the country of which barely 20 are in Tehran.
“If the number of visits remains as high as now, municipal bodies should open new auto inspection centers,” he said.
Based on the figures provided by the bureau, in the nine months to Dec. 21, some 1.3 million vehicles approached the inspection centers in Tehran. A majority of the cars were checked after the APR scheme was announced.
“Experts say technical conformity of vehicles has a direct impact on air quality. If drivers adhere to the rules the outcome will be positive as air pollution will be controlled,” Mohammadian noted.
While the TM’s move to reduce air pollution has been commended by many as a step in the right direction, environmentalists say much more remains to be done.
Mohammadian revealed that many vehicles (buses) used by state-owned organizations to shuttle their employees do not meet the emission standards. “The same can be said about buses and minibuses used for transportation for schoolchildren and university students.”
He recalled a recent bus crash at the Islamic Azad University in northwest Tehran that claimed 10 innocent lives and left 25 injured.
Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi last week named a combination of the driver’s error with technical problems of the bus as the reason behind the tragedy.
“Vehicles used by schools, academic centers, and government organizations as a rule must be checked regularly to prevent such tragedies.”
Adding to the challenges urban managers face, Mohammadian points to the polluting motorcycles which for long have plied the congested streets and alleys and are a permanent nuisance to one and all.
Reports say there are over 11 million motorcycles in the country, more than half of which at best are suited for the scrap yard.
“If average life expectancy of a two-wheeler is 6 years, there are over 6 million motorbikes that have passed the threshold and must be in the junkyard," he said.
Transportation and Traffic Organization of Tehran Municipality earlier announced that carbureted motorcycles alone are responsible for more than 10% of air pollution in the city of 12 million people.
Managing director of the organization, Mohsen Pour-Seyed-Aqaei says, “They are five times more polluting than the four-wheel clunkers. Serious measures must be taken to control the mobile sources of soot and smog.”
Thanks to nature's helping hand or some measures so far taken by municipal bodies, skies in the capital hardly visible due to the worsening air pollution, regained their blue color more frequently this year.
Air quality in Tehran usually deteriorates in the second half of the year when the thick blanket of pollution is trapped at lower heights and suffocates the city.
Traffic and air pollution in Tehran and its satellite cities has become something very close to torture and at times agonizing, particularly during rush hours. The growing population, poor public transport and use of private vehicles on a large scale have created conditions not many can bear.
Tehran’s public transportation includes city buses, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), subways and taxis. However, many areas still suffer from a lack of sufficient and decent services. The city’s subway system comprises six main lines (two have still to be completed) with nearly 100 stations.
This is apparently not enough for Tehran, in which, according to statistics, over 15 million people commute every day, many from the surrounding cities and towns.
While the introduction of plans like the APR has been welcomed by many, critics say until the public transportation is overhauled one should not expect to see meaningful change in air quality.