When people go to the provinces, one of their reasons for going is to get to breath the fresh air. The air's presumably cleaner than in polluted Metro Manila. But all that is becoming less and less true because of the proliferation of 2-stroke tricycles servicing the areas.
Did you know that motorcycles with 2-stroke engines allegedly emit smoke (hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, etc.) equal to 50 automobiles! You read right, 50 cars! That's based on an ADB study conducted throughout asia. You know how bad that is? Our chances of getting TB, asthma or lung cancer is increased ten-fold!
That's one of the reasons why under the Philippines' Clean Air Act of 1999, these 2-stroke engines were banned from being manufactured or imported by the end of 2003. Having said that, there remains to be thousands of 2-stroke engines still being used today (those produced or purchased before 2003), and they continue to pollute our air. Yes, the Clean Air Act does mandate that all motor vehicles undergo smoke emission testing, but it's not effective. Let's be frank about this, testing happens only once a year. All the owner has to do is to make a few adjustments so that his 2-stoke engine passes the test during renewal, and the other 364 days of the year he can operate the tricycle without much hassle.
In comes Envirofit International, a non-profit organization based in the US. Our friends in Colorado developed a Direct In-cylinder (DI) Fuel injection retrofit kit for 2-stroke engines that is cleaner and more fuel efficient.
Envirofit chose Vigan City as its pilot area. Right now, after much explaining to the different Tricycle Operators and Drivers Associations, Envirofit has started converting the tricycles.
When I heard about this, I told myself we should do the same thing in Laoag. I mean we have over 2,800 tricycles, y'know. So I wrote to the Vigan City Council about it and they responded positively. So, with an NGO, the PENRO, CENRO and a couple of reporters, I went to Vigan last week to see if we could replicate the project in Laoag and Batac.
This is Vigan's CENRO (Community Enviroment and Natural Resources Officer) Glenn explaining to me and my companions how the new converted engine works:
And here is what the converted tricycle looks like. To the untrained eye, wala kang makitang difference. No big attachments or anything. Mukhang ordinaring tricycle pa rin.
To cleaner air!