Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Uganda: The environmental side of Pioneer buses

Proprietors of the bus company, Pioneer Easy Bus, which emerged on Kampala roads to rescue stranded passengers as the taxi drivers staged a strike yesterday, could help in reducing the carbon footprint in the city atmosphere. Regardless of the legality of the contract of Pioneer buses that is now subject to parliamentary debate, the environmental benefits the bus transport system brings are enormous. Today most of the world is going green –a term used by environmentalists to describe the efforts to reduce the impact of modern human life on the rest of the natural world.

One Pioneer bus carries an average of 60 passengers effectively replacing 4 taxis, thereby reducing the amount of air pollution from the taxis.  Kampala is estimated to have at least 10,000 taxis. The Pioneer Easy Bus Company has purchased 500 buses and will increase their number with growing demand. This implies that with the 500 buses there are 2000 taxis that will be replaced; saving the environmental pollution. This is because only 500 buses will emit less greenhouse gases compared to 2000 taxis. If the bus services are excellent those with personal cars will be persuaded to leave them at home, and board buses as the traffic congestion in the city will be eased. With this more buses will be purchased hence reducing the carbon emissions from cars on Kampala city roads.

Given the impact of climate change on world economies, it is time for cities to take the lead in advocating green (eco) cities which meet the needs of the present without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The crux of this idea is to create the smallest possible ecological footprint, and to produce the lowest quantity of pollution possible. If this practice and others like recycling or converting waste-to-energy are adhered to, Kampala’s overall contribution to climate change will be minimal and the chances of having a warmer Uganda will reduce. 

One of Pioneer buses on Kampala Road
The introduction of Pioneer buses in Kampala ties in with the ongoing debate regarding use of sustainable transportation in major world cities. This aims to reduce a city’s reliance and use of greenhouse emitting gases by utilizing eco friendly urban planning, low environmental impact vehicles, and residential proximity to create an urban center that has greater environmental responsibility and social equity. Transportation systems have great impact on the city’s energy consumption and environmental experts say nearly a quarter of the world’s energy consumption and carbon dioxide emission is attributed to transport systems. To reduce the greenhouse emissions resulting from the city’s transport system most developed countries are adapting models like proximity where time in transit is reduced as well as fuel expenditure, diverse modes of transport like use of bikes, energy cars, and use of pathways; and access to transport. 

For Kampala it will take practical city planning and its implementation in addition to better road and rail infrastructure to make the city more responsive to the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases from motorcars. But the Pioneer buses, though they may cause some distress in the employment opportunities for taxi drivers and touts, are a move in the right direction as far as the environmentalists are concerned.

By Mubatsi Asinja Habati

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