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Month-long campaign to raise motorists’ awareness on car fume dangers

By Hana Namrouqa - Jul 08,2014 - Last updated at Jul 08,2014

AMMAN — Authorities on Tuesday urged motorists of vehicles emitting excessive amounts of fumes to carry out maintenance on their cars to avoid fines.

Under a campaign launched Tuesday, the Environment Ministry and the Central Traffic Department will raise motorists’ awareness on the dangers of vehicle emissions in a bid to curb air pollution.

The campaign will continue for a month, during which traffic police will stop cars emitting excessive fumes, confiscate their licences and hand them a notification, Environment Minister Taher Shakhshir said at a press conference to launch the campaign.

“The motorists will not be fined instantly. They will be requested to carry out maintenance on their vehicles and when they rectify the violation, they will receive their licence with a sticker that says ‘You Are a Friend of the Environment Now,’” Shakhshir told reporters.

Central Traffic Department Director Brig. Gen. Dawood Hakooz said motorists will be given a grace period to rectify their situation before being fined.

“Motorists will have one week to do the necessary maintenance to reduce emissions. However, if they fail to abide… they will be fined JD20,” Hakooz told The Jordan Times at the press conference.

Highlighting the importance of the campaign, Shakhshir said car fumes are among the main sources of air pollution in the country and have an adverse impact on public health and the environment.

“The campaign will target all vehicles emitting fumes, particularly those operating on diesel,” he noted.

The minister noted that the quality of diesel imported into the Kingdom is below “our desired standards”, noting that the fact that the majority of diesel-run vehicles are old worsens the problem of emissions and air pollution.

The quality of diesel produced by the Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company (JPRC) is very poor due to the high percentage of sulphur, which is hundreds of times higher than the allowed limits, according to environmentalists.

In May 2005, Jordan specified that diesel from the JPRC should have a maximum of 350 parts per notation (ppn) sulphur, but the standard has not been applied, environment experts say, warning that diesel currently produced by the refinery contains 10,000-12,000ppn sulphur. 

“It is reported that the new shipments of diesel will be of better quality, this will positively reflect on the emissions from cars operating on diesel. Still, motorists are requested to carry out maintenance,” Shakhshir said.

Diesel exhaust fumes contain pollutants that may increase the risk of asthma, respiratory problems and cancer. Bits of soot, called particulate matter, and gases threaten health when diesel exhaust fumes are inhaled, according to web sources.

Hakouz said the fumes emitted by diesel-run buses not only impact public health and the environment, but also cause traffic accidents because the smoke is so heavy at times that it causes low visibility.

“Car emissions also have a negative impact on the economy because the fumes cause roadway markings to fade and pollute pavements, which necessitates regular painting of sidewalks,” he added.

Brig. Gen. Ahmad Taani, director of the Drivers and Vehicles Licensing Department, told The Jordan Times there are 1.293 million cars in the Kingdom, 24 per cent of which operate on diesel.

Taani noted that this figure does not include cars and vehicles of military or security agencies.

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