Corruption and car fumes clog up Mexico City

Financial Times 5/25/2016 

cars in trafficUnder Mexico City rules designed to reduce pollution, José’s 1994 Ford Explorer should stay off the road one day a week and every Saturday. Instead, he slips 500 pesos ($27) to a friendly mechanic, who in turn takes it to a friendly vehicle verification centre for its mandatory six-monthly emissions test. Problem solved.

“I think [the mechanics] pour a mixture of paint thinner and water into the tank to reduce the exhaust fumes,” says José matter-of-factly, although he asks to use this pseudonym rather than his real name. He reckons the mechanic keeps only 100 pesos, using the rest to pay test centre staff to turn a blind eye.

As bribes go it is cheap but, as José points out, this business is about volume. “It’s a generalised custom, really, especially if you have a car over 15 or 20 years old . . .  If your car is more than 10 years old, you always have to pay. I’d say 60 per cent of those that pass the verification paid 500 pesos at least.”

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