Based on a recent data release, we top the ASEAN chart in terms of the number of motor vehicles, with 721 cars per 1,000 people. What would be interesting is to have a follow-up study to ascertain our average time on the road and the duration of daily exposure to air pollution.
It is laudable that the authorities have initiated efforts to get more electric vehicles on the road. However, it would be years before the vision could be fully realised. In the meantime, vehicle emissions remain a concern, especially given the rising number of asthma cases among children.
My suggestion is for the authorities to incorporate a vehicle emission test into the yearly vehicle inspection. Upon failure of the test, instructions would be given to vehicle owners to take action to remedy the situation through car servicing, switching to cleaner fuel or installing diesel particulate filter. It is important for the authorities to expand its focus beyond vehicle safety to damages that a faulty car could cause to our health as well as the environment.
We could introduce a supplementary policy in the form of compensation for those unable to reduce emissions due to the age of the vehicle by offering a sum of money to support the purchase of a newer and greener model. Perhaps even get banks involved in the initiative by encouraging them to consider giving out longer-term loan repayment plans.
Finally, we could go one step further by mandating all heavy vehicles to be retrofitted with diesel particulate filter or selective catalytic reduction system in a bid to reduce emissions.
I urge the authorities to consider more aggressive efforts in reducing vehicle emissions in the country. A collective effort is needed to keep our environment free of pollutants that could harm the people’s health in the long run.