Around Asia: Beijing weighs ban on private cars

Beijing authorities intend to ban half the city’s four million private cars to combat the worsening air pollution in the Chinese capital.

The new measures introduces an alternative driving day scheme based on the cars license plates – odd numbers will be allowed on the roads one day, even numbers the next.

The rules will be enforced on days when there are serious levels of pollution based on a four-tiered pollution warning system, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

A “red alert” signifies an air quality index is expected to be over 300 over a three-day period. Public transporation and hours of service will be increased for would-be commuters and schools and kindergartens will be closed.

During an “amber alert,” factories will stop production and work will be halted on construction and building sites.

But the scheme to restrict the number of private cars from the roads is being met with criticism.

Some residents slammed those who can afford to buy two or more cars because they will ablel to drive any day when the restrictions is in force. Others criticized the restriction for targeting ordinary people as cars used by government officials and civil servants are exempted.

Beijing is regularly hit by bouts of choking, acrid smog, fueled by rapid industrialization and heavy road congestion on a daily basis.

A study by the Chinese Academy of Sciences found that nearly a quarter of PM2.5 particulate found in the city are emitted by car exhaust.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: Let Ideas Compete/Flickr

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