KCCA says rapid transport system will help improve Kampala air quality

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The KCCA Executive Director, Eng Andrew Mubiru Kitaka has said that a rapid transport system will greatly help in improving the air quality in Kampala.

Kitaka made the remarks on Wednesday during the launch of the 14th annual air quality awareness week.

“I look forward to seeing that the city attains a bus rapid transport system which will eventually contribute to reduction in traffic and vehicle emissions,”Kitaka said.

He noted that in addition to the 25 air quality monitors deployed within the city, KCCA has put in place interventions including the improvement in the road infrastructure by paving of roads to reduce dust, traffic control measures like signalisation of junctions to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion that he said will help in improve the quality of air in the city.

“Non-motorised lanes along all major roads and the pilot non-motorised route on Namirembe road which is nearing completion which will reduce air pollution exposure and boost business,” he said.

“We are working towards maximising waste collection for safe disposal to reduce household waste burning, greening the city, enforcement of tobacco control act to reduce smoking in public places and also through the Kampala Pollution Task Force, working with industries to adopt cleaner production practices to reduce pollution.”

In recent years, Kampala has been cited to be among the highly polluted cities in Africa with air pollution levels over six times higher than the World Health Organisation’s air quality guidelines.

Prof. Engineer Bainomugisha, the Project Lead at AirQo noted that the first step in being able to improve air quality is being able to measure it and know the prevailing air pollution levels and concentrations.

He noted that identifying air pollution sources and its spatial-temporal variations, and generating evidence to inform actions that both policymakers and individuals can take si also key.

“However, air quality equipment such as reference-grade monitors are extremely expensive, hence, limiting the scale of air quality monitoring. Without air quality data, it is very difficult to raise awareness of the emerging issues, or for government, business and individuals to know which actions to take to improve air quality and protect community health,” Bainomugisha said.

In the past three years, the AirQo, a Makerere University College of Computing and Information Sciences project has designed and deployed over 80 low-cost air quality monitors across the country.

These are built locally and uniquely designed to withstand the environmental and physical conditions such as dust and extreme weather conditions.

The monitors are optimised to work in settings characterised by unreliable power and intermittent internet connectivity, typical in a Sub-Saharan African setting.

They have provided a wealth of data that can be used to achieve an impact on air quality.

In 2016, the U.S. Embassy in Kampala installed the first air quality standard monitor in Uganda and has continuously worked with key stakeholders to improve Uganda's air quality.

Speaking at the function, NEMA senior environmental inspector, Jennifer Kutesakwe said there is a clear indication that the proposed interventions are a step in the right direction in improving the air quality.

“While these institutional interventions are very important, they cannot succeed without support from the general public. Attaining air quality goals will require collective efforts, and individually, we can all make contributions towards clean air,” she noted.

This year’s air quality awareness week under the theme, ‘Better Air, Better Health’ intends to raise awareness on air quality and its effects on health.

It is organized by the US mission in Kampala, AirQo, KCCA and NEMA.

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