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Mexico Implements Stricter Vehicle Ban Amid Worst Air Pollution in Recent Years

First Posted: Mar 31, 2016 08:08 AM EDT
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Skeletons fill Mexican streets in lead up to Day of the Dead celebrations

The air quality in Mexico City has gotten to such a deplorable state that the government had to impose sterner measures in order to combat the worsening condition that led to a pollution emergency -- the city's first since 2005.

All vehicles in the city will now be subjected to temporary driving restrictions starting the first week of April until the end of June. Some modes of public transport, like service vehicles and school buses, as well as hybrid and electric cars, will be given exemptions.

The No-Circulation Rule Takes Effect With a Wider Scope

The restriction will impel drivers to keep their vehicles out of the city roads once a week and for one Saturday a month. Prior to the implementation of the new vehicle ban, only those cars that failed to meet a low-emission certification from authorized testing centers were governed by the no-circulation policy.

But, several days ago, a Phase 1 Emergency was raised by the local officials for the first time in 11 years because of the high concentration of ozone and other air contaminants. Under such an emergency situation, the exception of lower-emission vehicles has been lifted in order to reduce their numbers on the road.

Local residents in Mexico City who purchase their own private cars have been increasing. Apart from the more affordable and flexible payment terms nowadays, the woes of a commuter riding the low-quality public transportation encourage car ownership.

Another culprit in the worsening air conditions is the high-volume emission coming from older vehicles and those that have passed check-up and testing through dubious means like bribery.

The Local Government Announced the Contingency Measures

These are some of the major issues that the local officials will want to address. Apart from the temporary driving restrictions, the government is also mapping out plans to improve public transport and come up with stricter vehicular verification like the use of new technology.

"The contingency plan announced today is a temporary measure to prevent spikes in pollution that affect health and the environment," Mexican Minister for the Environment Rafael Pacchiano wrote via his Twitter account. "The definitive 'no circulation' program will align with the new rule for vehicular verification that will be presented soon," he also added.

The new measure is expected to run from April to June when there is a high level of ozone and until rainfall comes to help improve air quality in the city.

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