November 15, 2008

Jakarta Air Getting Healthier: Official

While compulsory emissions testing for private cars continues to be delayed, the Jakarta administration claims air quality is getting better across the city thanks to regular car-free days.

Data from the Jakarta Environment Management Board (BPLHD) shows Jakartans breathed healthy air on 104 days up to October this year, compared to only 73 days last year and 45 days in 2006.

The city launched “voluntary” emission checks for private cars in 2006.

BPLHD chairman Budirama Natakusumah said Car-Free Day significantly contributed to a reduction in air pollution in the city.

“Up until October we had carried out Car-Free Day 18 times this year, including along the city’s main street of Jl. Jend. Sudirman,” he told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the Better Air Quality conference in Bangkok on Thursday.

Budirama said concentration of particulate matter measuring 10 mm (PM10) decreased by an average of 40 percent each Car-Free Day.

The amount of carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) declined an average of 63 percent and 67 percent respectively.

The pollutants expelled by motor vehicles and industries cause various diseases, particularly respiratory disease, hypertension, kidney failure, coronary disease and cancer.

Budirama said the office used a mobile air monitoring unit to measure air quality during Car-Free Day, which was mostly conducted on weekends when many Jakartans stay at home.

Jakarta, which organized three car-free days last year, has five air quality monitoring stations, but only three of them are in good condition.

“We plan on holding Car-Free Day 22 times next year. Hopefully, we can also enforce the law on mandatory emissions tests for private cars and motorcycles,” Budirama said.

In 2005, the administration issued a bylaw requiring all private cars to test their emissions, in an effort to clean the city’s air.

Under the bylaw, vehicle owners are required to have their vehicles tested twice a year. Owners of vehicles that pollute heavily are fined Rp 2 million or face two months in prison.

Budirama said the delay in enforcing the law was due to technical problems, holding back the supply of certificates and stickers for emission tests.

Chairman of the Public Health School at the University of Indonesia, Budi Haryanto, doubted the validity of the air quality figures, saying data from Car-Free Day could not represent the real condition of the whole city.

“We need to verify the data given the fact more and more people are falling ill because of air pollution in Jakarta,” he said.

Budi said results from measuring the air quality on the weekend would be different to tests on working days, when millions of private cars and motorcycles flocked to Jakarta.

Chairman of the Indonesian Lead Information Center (KPPB), Ahmad Safruddin, who is also involved in the Car-Free Day campaign, said hydrocarbon (HC) in Jakarta remained a big problem.

“We need to improve fuel quality in Jakarta and retrofit catalytic converters in order to cut pollutants of HC, PM10 and CO,” he said.

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Jakarta air gettig healthier: Official

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