By: M. Qasim Malik, General Manager, Sales & Marketing, Plum Qingqi Motors Ltd.
akistan is an arid country with rainfall ranging as low as 80 mm in the south to as high as 1600 mm in the north. Moreover, the wind speed, which is essential for flushing of pollution, is also low in our cities.
In Pakistan an emerging issue of pollution is the degradation of ambient air quality particularly in urban areas. Various surveys show that air pollution levels in cities have either crossed safe limits or have just reached the threshold values. The most serious issue of air quality in Pakistan is the presence of excessive Suspended Particulate Matters (SPM) present in the air. The levels of suspended particulate matters and other pollutants, which have active co-relation with meteorological conditions, are likely to increase given the dry air condition prevails. One of the major sources of SPM are transport vehicles with harmful contents of engine emissions.
In study of three cities namely Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad the average suspended particulate matters in our cities were 6.4 times higher than WHO guidelines and 3.8 times higher than Japanese standards. Research has proved a direct relationship of respiratory diseases with level of SPM and other gases in the ambient air. Dust allergy, throat irritation and cough are very common symptoms of health problems due to air borne emission. Direct affects of air pollution on health, climate change, vegetation, rainfall patterns, and overall ecosystem hold significant economic values for a country like Pakistan.
Increasing Transport Traffic Trend in Pakistan:-
In Pakistan, the number of vehicles has jumped from 2 million in 1990 to about 9.5 million in 2009, within 20 years showing an overall increase of more than 370% and average compound growth of vehicles is about 9.2% per annum. According to a World Bank study carried out in Bangladesh and India, the major cause of suspended particulate matters was due to 2-stroke vehicles using excessive quantity of lubricant (12%) instead of 2% for motorcycles and 3% for 3-wheelers. While in Pakistan similar scenario is visible in case of 2-stroke motorcycles and 3-wheelers plying at large scale, Plum Qingqi Motors Ltd. (PQML) prominent automobile manufacturer in Pakistan has a major contribution in catering this issue by introducing 4-stroke motorcycles & rickshaws to obsolete menus of 2-stroke vehicles being used as public service vehicles.
Diesel vehicles have also increased at an alarming rate of 175-200% since 1990. Diesel vehicles due to overloading, faulty injection nozzles and weak engine emit excessive graphitic carbon (visible smoke). This situation is very common in our country. Diesel particulate filter (DPF), which is a device used in many countries to control emission in diesel vehicles, cannot be used in Pakistan as it requires low sulphur diesel that is 0.05-0.5% sulphur (available diesel in market contains 1% sulphur)
The levels of Sulphur dioxide, Oxides of Nitrogen and Carbon Monoxide were found in excess of acceptable standards in some areas but the average levels were found below WHO guidelines. Presence of such high levels of suspended Particulate Matters in the air is certainly a matter of concern due to its serious health implications for public.
Main cause of increasing ratio of carbon monoxide (CO) in the air is incomplete combustion of fuel especially in the form of 2-storke vehicular emission whereas CO is considered a highly toxic gas as it reacts directly with hemoglobin (Hb) in the blood replacing oxygen while another important air pollutant is hydrocarbons (H.Cs) which are byproduct of incomplete combustion of fuels emitted by mainly 2-stroke vehicles consisting of toxic gases. These gases also have toxic effect on human health, causing difficulty in breathing, pain in eyes and throat are common symptoms.
Another serious issue is that of high content of lead in petrol, which presently is 0.35 gram/liter. Different studies carried out by Pakistan Medical and Dental Association and Agha Khan Medical Hospital have confirmed presence of high concentration of blood lead levels in school children, traffic police and adults. Road side air samples also showed high lead in air. Many countries of the region including Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, Philippines, Thailand and almost all Europeans countries have banned lead in gasoline.
A related issue is that of noise pollution in civic areas. The major sources of noise pollution is transport especially 2-stroke rickshaws made by road side manufacturers by hit & trial methods without any legal frame work. In major cites like Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta, the noise levels are much higher than the desirable limits. The high noise is also largely on account of pressure horns, faulty silencers and poorly maintained motor engines.
Improving Ambient Air Quality:-
In the last decade animal driven “tongas” was only option available as a public transport for majority of middle class in Pakistan. Plum Qingqi motors Ltd.(PQML),famous Chinese company took the initiative and positively changed the transport culture of our cities and towns by providing modern, fast and economical means of public as well as private transport. Now experts consider that 60-70% cause of urban air quality degradation is due to vehicles with bad emission especially of 2-stroke engines and poorly maintained vehicles. Again PQML provides environmentally effective and economical transport solutions for urban and rural areas. Its diversified product range including 4 stroke low emission petrol and CNG vehicles provide efficient alternative mode of transportation to save our natural environment. Qingqi 3-wheelers Passenger Carriers and Goods Carriers with 4-storke petrol and CNG dedicated engines are best alternate for masses to cater the increasing needs of transportation in Urban as well as sub-urban areas.
Realizing the issue of degradation of air quality the government has taken various steps for improvement to protect public from excessive exposure to pollution. Civil society is also responsible to promote environment conscious motoring by adopting 4-stroke environment friendly means of transportation and proper maintenance of vehicles especially in urban areas. Moreover 2-stroke motorcycles and rickshaws including fake motorcyclerickshaws moving in a large number in Urban and sub urban areas needs strict ban by transport authorities and effective control by traffic police to get rid of noise as well as air pollution.