As a matter of interest, the Air Quality Standards in Tanzania state that daily average of hourly values of sulfur oxides shall not exceed 0.1 mg/ kg. It must be tedious to measure.
Believe it or not, Tanzania has established Vehicle Emission Standards. The standards can solve the traffic jam problem if they are applied in Arusha. Many owners will park or recycle their vehicles since they don’t meet the required standards. The city buses to Unga Limited and Sombetini in Arusha will be first to be parked or recycled since they are in the worst conditions. The standards specify 2.0 – 8.0 grams per kilometer emission limits for Carbon monoxide for light duty vehicles which are less than three tons.
It is difficult to imagine that there are emission standards for motorcycles in Tanzania. But there are. Only that it does not make a difference because nobody implements the standards.
Actually, traffic police can inspect vehicles and motorcycles to determine their road worthiness thereby preventing pollution. But they don’t.
There are standards in Tanzania which specify permissible noise levels for six types of areas during the day and during the night. The standards also specify noise limits which each type of construction equipment and vehicles are permitted to emit. The unit of measure is very specialized. But, it does not matter since nobody expects to find authorities measuring noise standards for places, equipment or vehicles anywhere in Arusha.
In case you have observed, the signposts prohibiting hooting at the main bus stand in Arusha are not part of implementation of the standard noise specifications. More likely than not, management of the nearby hotels had requested authorities to put up the signs to ensure that noise from the bus stand does not disturb their clients.
There is talk that farmers cultivating high value crops like vegetables in Tanzania over fertilize the land. The soil standards in Tanzania appear to be silent about that. Incidentally, Tanzania has set contaminants limits for pesticides as well.
Meanwhile, officials have to learn contaminant limits of obscure substances and heavy metals in order to apply standards specified in Volatile Organic Compounds and Heavy Metals Standards in Tanzania. Xylenes and Styrene are some of the substances to be monitored while Molybdenum and Selenium are some of the heavy metals to be assessed. The standards do not specify test methods for Styrene, Selenium or Molybdenum. It is an official excuse for not monitoring such substances.
The Quality Standard for Drinking Water in Tanzania sets limits for microbiological, chemical and physical substances. The questions are the same: who monitors limits of microorganisms called Coli and E. coli in water in various parts of Arusha city? Or, who monitors limits of harmful substances like Cyanide, nitrates or fluoride in drinking water anywhere?
Thinking about it, perhaps the government can assign colleges, universities and research institutions to monitor environmental standards and report to the government regularly for action. Otherwise, environmental standards in Tanzania join the many impressive policies on development which the government cannot implement.
This article originally appeared in the allafrica.com 04/05/2013