‘There is no escape’: Nairobi’s air pollution sparks Africa health warning
John Vidal in Nairobi
Sunday 10 July 2016 18.18 BST
minibus belches black smoke; the lorry behind it in the traffic jam billows white fumes. Eyes smart in the smog as diesel gases from thousands of 10 and 15-year-old vehicles fill Nairobi’s hazy evening air, adding to pollution levels that are “beyond imagination”, according to one resident. This jam could last for one, three, even five hours – last year, one stretched for 30 miles.
“In 28 years of living in Nairobi, I have seen the number of people quadruple and car ownership go from 5% to 27% of people. The pollution is mind-boggling,” says Dorothy McCormick, a Nairobi university economics researcher and author of books on African transport.
“There are 16 times as many vehicles on the road as when I came – the city just cannot cope. We have no tarmac left, no congestion charge and people use charcoal, paraffin and wood to heat their homes. You can see the haze building up from the early morning. What do you do – stop breathing? There is no escape.”