Importation of used motor vehicles and the environmental hazards they pose is one of the key concerns legislators highlighted, this week, during a session of members of the standing committee on budget and national patrimony of the Chamber of Deputies with officials in the ministry of environment and natural resources (Minirena).
EAC officials acknowledge that while transportation is crucial to the bloc's economy, it is also a significant source of GHG emissions
The committee had sat to scrutinise the ministry's budget allocations in the 2012/13 budget.
The MPs noted that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by used vehicles are a danger to public health.
Abbas Mukama, the vice-chairperson of the committee inquired about imminent plans to rid the country of cars that pollute the environment.
Minister Stanislas Kamanzi noted that his ministry with the Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) are in the process of setting standards of vehicles to be allowed into the country and "limits on the levels of exhaust fumes they can emit."
The Director of the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), Dr. Rose Mukankomeje, told MPs that a team comprising IRST, the Police, RBS and REMA is engaged in "a hard battle" with the private sector.
"Our technicians recently held a meeting in the ministry of EAC Affairs so as to agree on the age limit of vehicles that can be allowed to enter Rwanda. Kenyans have done this and they agreed on eight years. Here, and in other countries, they wanted 10 years.
"On Friday (last week), we exchanged e-mails [with the private sector] indicating that it is not acceptable. If we accept years higher than the Kenyans, they will always buy vehicles and when they age, they will bring them here," she said, noting that allowing overly old vehicles into the country would bring about congestion and pollution.
The REMA boss told MPs that their position is to go for eight years, like Kenya, to avoid the likelihood of older vehicles from the region being dumped in Rwanda.
In a related development, a consultative meeting on the age limit of imported used motor vehicles entering the East African Community (EAC), held in Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday, decided on the need to harmonise the age limit of vehicles imported into the region.
A related East African Business Council (EABC) statement e-mailed to The New Times says up to now, there is no consensus on the harmonisation of the standard. It noted that the Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment recommended that stakeholders who attended the meeting needed to provide a solution and come up with recommendations to policy makers on the way forward.
EAC officials acknowledge that while transportation is crucial to the bloc's economy, it is also a significant source of GHG emissions.
As noted, causes of air pollution from transportation include; excessive use of the vehicles, age of the vehicle and technology used, poor maintenance and unavailability or improper use of appropriate fuels.
Variation in controls on age limits poses challenges on the harmonisation of East African Standard Code of Practice - testing of motor vehicles for roadworthiness regimes and technical regulations on road vehicles, standards and procedures for controls of used imported which jeopardises the cardinal spirit of regional integration.
The Council of Ministers made a decision in 2007 to harmonise the age limit of vehicles imported into the region by April 2009.
The East African Standards Committee (EASC) has been working on the harmonisation of the age limit for imported second hand or used vehicles into the community.
A proposal to adopt a tentative age limit of 10 years from the date of first registration among all the partner states with the exception of Kenya which wishes to retain the age limit of eight years was presented to the EAC Council of Ministers by the EASC in 2008.
The Council of Ministers deferred the proposal to pave way for further stakeholder engagement.