The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in collaboration with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) yesterday commenced an enlightenment programme in Nigeria on protection of the marine environment from pollution with a three-day workshop for stakeholders in the maritime sector.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the workshop, which kicked-off at the Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, with the theme: London Protocol (1996) on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and other Matters, the IMO representative, Edward Kleeverlaan said that the harmonisation of environmental protection measures for ship related activities for marine and terrestrial environment waste management arrangements in Nigeria is still weak.
He said that hence the need for a workshop such as this, which would bring together the country and her international partners in order to make progress towards understanding and implementing the London Protocol, thereby enhancing the protection of the marine environment from threats arising principally from land-based sources of wastes.
According to him, Nigeria is a part of a region that is characterised as a large interconnected coastal community undergoing rapid economic development with her economies very much dependent on port trade, shipping industries and large scale fishing.
He said that such expansion carries with it significant risks to the marine and coastal environment.
Also speaking at the workshop, the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, explained that the objective of the training is to enlighten participants especially the relevant stakeholders and acquaint them with the requirements of the London Protocol and its implementation and compliance approach as stipulated in the Merchant Shipping Regulations, 2012.
The Minister, who was represented at the event by Mr Babayaro Ado, said that, for hundreds of years, the seas and oceans had been used as a convenient, free-for-all rubbish dump to dispose of millions of tonnes of all kinds of wastes that were piling up on land-sludge from the dredging of ports and rivers, chemicals industry residues, ash from power and other unwanted wastes, which are having adverse effects on marine life, as well as safety of seafood for human consumption.
According to him, since the grave disaster experienced in Nigeria as a result of the dumping of waste at Koko in Delta state in 1987, successive governments in the country have been intensifying efforts to prevent further occurrence.
As part of these efforts, Nigeria became a signatory to both London Convention and Protocol and participates in all its meetings.
The 1996 Protocol came into force on March 24, 2006, and was ratified by Nigeria in October, 2010.
The London Convention of 1972 and its Protocol of 1996 is one of the first global conventions to protect the marine environment from human activities.
Under the Protocol, all dumping is prohibited except for possibly acceptable wastes bon the “reverse list.” This list includes: dredged material, sewage sludge, fish wastes, vessels and platforms, inert, inorganic geological material among others.
The Minster also said that NIMASA, as the Maritime Administration of the country responsible for implementing the provisions of the London Protocol, has, therefore, drawn-up implementation strategies including the putting in place of regulation on abatement of indiscriminate dumping and creation of necessary awareness to all relevant stakeholders through the organisation of the national workshop in collaboration with the IMO.
In his remarks at the workshop, the NIMASA Director-General, Mr Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, said that the Agency is making efforts to ensure the fulfilment of her mandate.
He revealed that, currently, there is a Merchant Shipping (Sea Dumping) Regulations 2012, which stipulates the proper procedure and guidelines for permissible dumping at sea.
“I am very optimistic that NIMASA will actualise her vision in averting deliberate disposal of wastes or other matters in Nigeria’s territorial waters with the desired goal of achieving clean ocean,” he said.
Earlier in his opening speech, the NIMASA Executive Director Maritime Safety and Shipping Development, Capt. Ezekiel Bala Agaba, explained that, following the positive efforts of Nigeria at executing the provisions of the London Convention and Protocol and to ensure its full implementation in Nigeria, the IMO decided that Nigeria hosts a national workshop on the Protocol on February 26 to 28 in Lagos.
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