Published on 30 March 2012 in The Standard
The findings of a recent study on air pollution levels in Nairobi are shocking. The study shows contamination scale of air inhaled by city residents is five times higher than the recommended international levels.
Experts attribute the dangerously high toxic levels to extreme concentration of diesel-consuming vehicles and high-rise buildings that hold the polluted air while blocking out cleaner air. But with excessive air pollution usually associated with myriad health conditions, this is an environmental hazard we cannot afford to harbour anymore.
The Government has a chance to reverse the situation before it gets out of hand. And it would not take rocket scientists to do this. First, scientific studies have shown that trees can significantly decrease overall air pollution levels by removing gaseous air pollutants and particulate matter.
The Government should also enforce deliberate measures to trim over reliance on motorized transport, effectively trimming the number of vehicles in the city. This can effectively be achieved by investing in railway transport. Relocating public matatu termini to the city’s periphery could also be a part solution to this problem.
It would equally be prudent that the proactive measures to curb air pollution be considered during architectural planning. This should involve constructing skyscrapers a healthy distance away from each other and relocating highly populated facilities such as shopping malls away from the city centre.