Topic: EnvironmentAir Pollution

Last updated: May 11, 2019

It is certain that Bruneians have an extremely high reliance on the private automobile, which results in our country being one of the world’s top car-owning countries. Our country’s motorization rate is as high as 712 motor vehicles per 1,000 populations. (Francisco, 2017). The low cost of running a car due to the government’s policy in subsidising fuel, the availability of installment plans offered by car dealers and the lack of public transport options are the reasons to be blamed. Furthermore, most Bruneians want the freedom to travel anywhere at any time they wish to, with comfort. Although owning a private car is the most convenient way to travel around in Brunei, car ownership should be controlled and limited to one car per family in Brunei because it will reduce traffic congestion, reduce air pollution and lead Bruneians to greater acceptance to public transport.
First, through the government’s restrictions on owning only one vehicle for each household, the freeway congestion can be reduced. Just like most countries in Asia, car ownership is also generally considered as a status symbol in Brunei. Hence, it is not uncommon for families in our country to own two or more cars. As a result, the growing amounts of private cars are preventing smooth-flowing traffic in the country. The heavy volume of traffic usually starts especially after 7:00 AM, during noon and after 4:00 PM when most go to and back from school or work. With the implementation of one car per household policy, there will be a higher chance that more Bruneians would consider alternatives such as carpooling. Carpool is the sharing of car journeys by a group of people in a single vehicle, taking turns to drive each other to the desired destination. If a large amount of people carpool, the number of cars on the road in Brunei will significantly be less and therefore rush hours will be less stressful. Therefore, in my opinion, car congestion in Brunei will never be eliminated without the development and implementation of this new policy.
Next, greenhouse gases which cause air pollution that eventually have negative effects on public health can be decreased by decreasing the number of cars on the road. When we say air pollution, we’re referring to the release of harmful chemicals, particles and biological matters to the air which causes harm to us humans, animals, plants as well as the natural environment. (Williams, 2016). There is no denying that automobiles are one of the significant contributors to air pollution. This is because there are four major pollutants that are emitted from our vehicles which are carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. (Brinson, 2012). Many studies have proven that these pollutants are a major contributor to the negative effects on our natural environment. Carbon dioxide (CO2) for instance, is a heat-trapping greenhouse gas which traps infrared radiation at ground level, creating an atmospheric layer which warms up the atmosphere. (Rogers, 2018). One study found that the Carbon dioxide emissions from the roads of our country, Brunei have been increasing at an average annual rate of 37.1% that is from 682.4 metric tons in 1993 to 1,342.6 metric tons in 2012. (Yodatai, n.d.). The emission of CO2 is directly proportional to fuel consumption (Wargo, Linda, ; Alderman, 2006). Hence, without the change in car ownership policy, cars volume will increase which eventually cause the increase in CO2 and other pollutants which causes pollution to the atmosphere.
Furthermore, scientific experts have already proven that these harmful vehicle emissions have a significant negative effect on public health. Cardio-vascular disease, asthma, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes are some of the illnesses that are exacerbated by air pollution due to the release of harmful vehicle emissions. (Wargo, Linda, ; Alderman, 2006). Asthma, for instance, can be caused by even a short-term exposure of fine particular matter released from vehicle exhausts as it irritates the lungs. (Wargo, Linda, ; Alderman, 2006). Furthermore, in Brunei, there is a fairly low amount of population who would choose to walk or ride a bike to school and work even when it is considered a walkable distance. According to WalkSanDiego (n.d.), 25% of our daily trips are a walkable distance as they are less than a mile but unfortunately, 75% of these trips were made by automobile. Therefore, implementation of the one car per household policy will help to promote less-polluting modes of travel which in addition, improves health. For example, by walking 30min every day, the risk of having coronary heart disease can be decreased by 50%. (WalkSanDiego, n.d.). These prove how limited car ownership will reduce air pollution which has a correlation with public health.
Lastly, as the number of cars allowed for each household is being limited to one, the government will be more encouraged on improving its public transport to convince the population to shift to public transport. There are no LRT or MRT in Brunei so the only public transports available are buses and taxis. Buses constitute as the main means of public transport in Brunei. However, although buses are the main means of public transport in the Sultanate, these buses are however often only used by foreign workers due to the high rate of private car ownership by citizens of our country. A survey has shown that a high amount of population in the Sultanate have never used public transport which includes 88% adults and 72% youths. (“Review to formulate a roadmap and draft national masterplan for sustainable land transportation system for Brunei Darussalam,” 2014). Nonetheless, due to being used to the freedom and convenience to travel in privately owned cars, there tend to be negative perceptions of the public transport service offered in our country. Therefore, the government should not only limit the number of cars owned but also improve on the service and facilities of the public transport in our country in order to have more citizens to have a greater acceptance on shifting their mode of travel to public transport.
To summarise, with the government’s help in monitoring and controlling the number of cars owned per family, there will be a reduction in traffic congestion, a decrease in pollutants that causes air pollution which affects public health as well as encouraging Bruneians to shift from private cars to public transport. As a result, many countries around the world such as Singapore have considered or have introduced a policy to slow down the growth of private cars and to control its usage. (Phang & Toh, 1997). In conclusion, Brunei should not be an exception in controlling and limiting car ownership to one car per family.


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