“NIMASA is implementing the MARPOL Annex VI which is specifically on the air emission”
Dr Awwal Bamanga is an environment specialist and an Assistant Director at NIMASA. In this interview with both Oluyinka Onigbinde and Joshua Yousouph, he talks about decarbonisation in shipping, as well as how Nigeria can meet the 2050 deadline set by the IMO
You recently delivered a paper on Decarbonisation at the PMAWCA Conferenced in Luanda, Angola on decarbonisation. What are the take home and the way forward for decarbonisation?
The conference in Luanda was a regional conference for PMAWCA, and theme for this year is looking at the carbonization, air emission in port operations and how it affects global warming. My paper showcased the mechanism of how you can mitigate these air emissions from the port, strategies the port can adopt and the way forward. So in my presentation, I identified that there are two principal sources of emission to the environment. The port environment is also part of the maritime environment but it is the most vulnerable part of the marine environment. This is because it is highly industrialized. Secondly, it houses a lot of factories and it is most crucial part of the ecosystem, therefore industrial activities generate these emissions in a very high intensity format. Speaking of the two sources, one is from shipping; that is the vessel, then the other from the factory situated within the port. Now the strategy to look into this is that there is need for a collaboration among member states of PMAWCA, to adopt what is called Harbour Management System. The essence of the Harbour Management System is to look at the specific source of this air emission and how to mitigate them.
The second aspect is that the port should be involved in carrying out marine environment auditing of these factories, because they are the landlords. They should not leave it for Federal Ministry of Environment to regulate. They should be involved in ensuring that the factories situated in the port are controlled and monitored. The third one is for the port to comply with the sulphur content emission standard as supplied by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) which is part of MARPOL; specifically, MARPOL Annex VI that is dealing with the air emissions from the maritime industry, particularly from the vessels. The fourth strategy is for the port to embark on research and development whereby they can generate primary data and also looking into the future of what is going to happen when these emissions continue as a principal source in the maritime domain. These are basically the take-home.
The Nigeria ports is replete with lots of factories, what do you think the Federal Government can do to reduce pollution at the ports and ensure decarbonisation?
One thing with pollution is that you have to look at the sources, pathways and the impact. The Federal Government should start from the policy to ensure that we have local laws that will guide these emissions from the port. They should also look at the constituent of these air emissions. What I mean is that looking at what kind of gases that are being emitted from these air emissions. For example look at the Sulphur, Knox and Metane. These are the constituents. Now, there is a need for Federal Government to control these emissions from the source, reducing from the bunker station to establish policies that will guide these activities, the fuel the vehicles are using in the port should have minimal or less content of Sulphur, which will not be hazardous to the marine environment. The second aspect is for the Federal Government to encourage port operators to adopt and deploy new technologies. There are technologies that have been established all over the world. So we need to embrace the use of new technology to control these air emissions within the port. Another component is to encourage collaboration and as you’re aware that the United Nations SDG 17 is encouraging partnership. The ports that we have in Nigeria can have the same approach with the port in Ghana, or Angola. So there is a need for collaboration among member states and the Federal Government should encourage this. Also, the local stakeholders within the industry such as the shipowners, the oil and gas industry operators, importers, exporters, Customs community and all other relevant agencies like the Port Authority, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, and the National Inland Waterways Authority to come together and chart a roadmap in controlling these air emissions, because it is an energy issue which will contribute to global warming and climate change, thereby affecting people’s health, the economy and the environment. So these are the steps the Federal Government should take.
In addition to that, capacity building is also very important. The people who are monitoring these emission should have up-to-date training to cope with it in terms of technology application and skills. Then the fourth which I mentioned earlier is Research and Development which is a very key. The Federal Government should encourage specific ports to set asides funds to conduct research. Look at the data they are going to generate particularly the primary data. Determine how much emission is coming out from Port A and Port B within Nigeria. The maritime business is a global business and that is why regional collaboration is key.
The IMO has set a 2050 deadline for member states to meet-up with decarbonisation. Do you think Nigeria can meet that deadline?
Sure, Nigeria can meet the deadline provided the country set up a very comprehensive roadmap. This means looking at the sources of the carbonization, the pathways and impact. Now in that case, Nigeria can meet up in terms of conducting or encouraging research, deploying new technology, capacity building and policies to monitor and ensure compliance to the decarbonisation by 2050. It is also going to be a roadmap to achieving the Blue Economy.
Do you see funding as an impediment for Nigeria in actualizing the decarbonisation goal by 2050?
Actually, it is not a peril, it is just for the Federal Government to priortise it. We have budget for the planning and protection of the environment from the maritime agencies. We also have assistance from the International Maritime Organisation including the United Nations that are willing to support financially even the World Bank is willing to support financially. You can access fund. Fund is not the problem, but the commitment towards achieving that. The Federal Government of Nigeria needs to identify the sources of these emissions and how it affects the marine ecosystem that is within the maritime environment and in generality, the environment towards mitigating climate change.
What is your agency (NIMASA) doing as regards this?
My agency is a regulatory agency; responsible for implementing IMO conventions which bothers on safety and prevention of marine pollution which the air emission is one of. The United Nations challenged the maritime industry to monitor these air emissions from their maritime domain. My agency is the focal agency representing Nigeria at the IMO. My agency is implementing the MARPOL Annex VI which is specifically on the air emission. At the moment, the agency is developing guidelines for maritime air emissions which the stakeholders are going to implement. The second aspect is that the agency is encouraging sensitization of stakeholders on these air emissions. The agency is also developing or providing platforms for enforcement and monitoring of these air emissions. These are what the agency is doing at the moment.
Do you think air pollution is the only pollution that is affecting Lagos ports? What are the other pollutants?
Air pollution is just an aspect of marine pollution. There are so many pollution affecting the Lagos port. For example, we have what we call marine litters, oil spillages, sewage discharges, and antifouling which is emanating from abandoned ship wreckages which are also affecting the Lagos ports. What makes air pollution more prominent is because of the climate change and sea rise. Sea rise leads to coastal erosion and it also contributes to the fate of other pollutants like oil spillage. When the sea rises, it aids the movement of oil spillage from one part of marine environment to the other. So the air pollution or climate change generally contribute in enhancing other pollutants in terms of movement and impact because there is going to be changes in temperature, weather and pressure. That is why it becomes and an energy issue. It is a serious pollutant, there are other pollutants like the antifouling and heavy metals. One of the consequences in Lagos ports is that people and no longer fishing. The fishes are dead. Generally, one of the characteristics of ports environment is that it is a semi-closed basin area, because there is a restriction in water circulation. Whatever gets into the Port or Harbour and gets trapped and stays there. The second characteristics is that the depth is higher than other part of the ecosystem because of continuous dredging to support the larger vessels berthing there. So you can see that there is a tendency for all kinds of contaminants to confine themselves within the port environment and that is what makes it unique within the marine ecosystem.
What recommendations do you have for the industry?
I am encouraging the Ports Authorities to establish Harbour Management System. When this is established, it will look into the sources and pathways of these pollution, the implementation of the legal framework that causes pollution, the activities that is taking place whether it is often or not, so that the port management can now manage this pollution within the Harbour System without the regulators entering the port. This is because the port environment is their (Port Authorities) own house and there is no need for regulators to come in. The regulators know what they expect from you and you do it, then you won’t have any issue with the regulators. One of the major source of Cancer is from consuming seafood. So whatever goes into a marine environment come back to you, because you consume seafood and seafood have ingested those contaminants caused by constant dredging. The Harbour Management System will spell out their monitoring strategies, policies and enforcement without the regulators coming into the port. They can only share information. Research and development is also key. A port management should set aside funds for research and development. The essence of that is to carry out research on the Harbour Management System in terms of water quality, safety issues and climate change, so they can have their primary data as a baseline to develop their policies and regulations because port varies. We cannot compare the Lagos ports to that of London. There are peculiarities in each port. That is why there is need for each port to carry out research to generate primary data, which are peculiar to their port.
Kindly like us on Facebook/twitter