• Friday, June 14, 2024
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BusinessDay

Making Nigeria’s maritime sector sustainable and greener

Maritime Sector

It is very important to constantly evaluate and appraise Nigeria’s marine environment to ensure sustainability, safety and security. This is to avoid precarious incidents such as the dumping of toxic waste twice in 1988 and 2017 at Koko in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta state and other major environmental challenges we have encountered in the past including the re-occurring oil spillage in the Niger Delta region.

Toxic waste was deposited in Koko by an Italian company and this led to a lot of illnesses and deaths. The deposit of 18,000 drums of the hazardous waste in the affected community disguised as building materials generated widespread global condemnation. The waste materials were overtime being offloaded into a private at a meagre sum of $100 per month. As though the initial pathetic situation was not enough, the residents of the Koko community had again in February 2017 raised another alarm that toxic waste was dumped in the same community, almost thirty years (30years) after the first incident.

All these unsavoury incidents happened because our Ports lacked the necessary infrastructures and facilities such as modern technological systems and manpower to monitor the waste disposal and containment of environmental hazards. If our Ports and other maritime security agencies had modern technology systems like waste management processing facilities, artificial intelligence (AI), remote sensor technology systems etc., we would have been able to monitor and detect such incidence before it occurred and lives would have been saved. Implementation of modern technology systems such as robust sensor technology, artificial intelligence, IoT, big data in Nigerian Ports are very vital elements that would help promote monitoring as well as mitigate emissions and pollution.

Global emissions from the maritime sector is responsible for 10-15 percent of anthropogenic sulfur (Sox), Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) as well as approximately 3 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and this was why in 2018, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) member states set a target of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions to 50 percent reduction by 2050.

Nigeria Ports implementation of latest technology and infrastructure will help reposition its strategy of becoming more sustainable and competitive. It is in this regard Ports such as Rotterdam, Shanghai, Singapore, Antwerp are regularly upgrading their facilities to be more competitive and most environmentally acceptable.

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They regularly upgrade and build better road network, well-connected rail systems to the hinterland, deepening of its waterways, installation of modern anchoring and pilotage systems, modern vessels, installation of modern safety and security devices, have well-trained employees, modern buoys, modern digital technology system and other essential structures needed to be more resilient to adapt to changes capable of affecting its sustainability.

it is very important that we re-evaluate the status quo and adopt modern strategies that would reposition our Ports and maritime sector to be more competitive, sustainable and safer

Most ports are now setting aggressive environmental sustainability goals to deliver on a twin agenda of reducing their respective carbon footprints, while also making their facilities more competitive. The busiest port in Europe, Rotterdam Port has continued to develop more collaborative strategies to boost competition and also improve their market share and this is evident in his partnerships with companies like Richtlijn Geodesie, Flower Turbines, Ladar Limited and Planys Tech and other stakeholders to boost their sustainability goals.

While efficient Ports are important to Nigeria’s economy, the associated increased ship traffic and inefficiencies in cargo handling and bottlenecks in the evacuation of goods out of the ports have been responsible for port congestion. The situation has been exacerbated by an obvious lack of modern technology system that would help drive its sustainability goals in line with United Nations sustainable development goals SDG’s to mitigate emissions and pollution.

Also, the incidence of ship-generated marine pollution has continued to be a source of concern to the international maritime community especially in its effort to promote safe shipping, a cleaner environment and be more sustainable and it is imperative that stakeholders need to understand the positive effects of green solutions from an ecological point of view and also see its positive impacts regarding operational and economic performance. Therefore, we must begin to promote the adoption and implementation of strategies that would promote greenhouse gas (GHG), modern technology, cleaner marine environment and other methods that can help sustain our Ports, marine space and its surrounding environment.

Also, the increasing concern about safety, security and marine environment demands that we upgrade our infrastructure as obtained in Singapore, Shanghai and Rotterdam to avoid situations like the Beirut Port experience of 4th August 2020, where an explosion killed at least 160 people and over 6,000 were injured and the impact destroyed several roads, buildings, facilities and other important infrastructure within the port and its surrounding environments thereby causing over 500,000 people to lose their shelter, livelihood and life-sustaining amenities due to explosion caused by maintenance work at a facility that housed large amounts of ammonium nitrate.

Studies have shown that the effects of ship-based pollution on the marine environment threaten the Nigerian fishing industry where maritime sector industries such as fishing contribute approximately 3.00-5.00 percent to the Nigerian Agriculture share of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Additionally, the introduction of non-indigenous species to our aquatic environment threatens not only a very important protein source in the diet of Nigerians but also our economic stability.

Also upgrading our Port infrastructure and adopting a Port centric logistics strategy would help reduce congestion around our Ports. Upgrading our infrastructure would also boost a cleaner environment, facilitate proper management of waste disposal in the friendliest manner that would help reduce and eliminate potential harm to humans, plants, animals and other natural resources.

Against the backdrop, there is a need for us to evaluate our policies as the shipping sector works towards better management of the negative environmental effects arising from it. At an international level, under Annexes, I, II, III, IV, V and VI of MARPOL, various legal instruments and controls have been provided to encourage regulation and enforcement by flag states, coastal states and port state control.

While it is surprising that despite replacing FEPA with the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) to regulate the collection, treatment and disposal of solid and hazardous waste from municipal and industrial sources, while also ensuring the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) is mandatory for any major development project likely to impact on the environment, the awareness level about the adverse effects of environmental sustainability is still low.

Also acknowledging that UN and IMO goals have made our Ports and the marine environment globally more sustainable in the area of sustainability and cleaner environment, Nigerian maritime space is still yet to get there and as these challenges continue we must do all we can to make our maritime ecosystem more sustainable and secured as well as provide the requisite port waste reception facilities that would drastically reduce rising levels of marine pollution from ship-based discharges and a cleaner environment.

Furthermore, the lack of adequate waste reception facilities in our maritime ecosystem and Ports is such that vessels have no choice but to discharge waste at sea as most West African Ports lack such facilities or they are inadequate, hence ship waste collection processes in the ports are not only inefficient but also their management remains poor. Interestingly, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) does not own or operate waste reception facilities but outsources that responsibility to a private pollution control company

It is also evident that solid waste management in the maritime sector is plagued with inefficient collection methods, improper disposal, lack of institutional arrangement, insufficient financial resources to manage it, absence of bylaws and standards, inadequate use of modern technology system and our policies and laws are fragmented and not well formulated on nationally generated baseline data. In addition, Participation of experts in policy formulation and implementation are also lacking as well as enforcement and monitoring.

Therefore. it is very important that we re-evaluate the status quo and adopt modern strategies that would reposition our Ports and maritime sector to be more competitive, sustainable and safer.