From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
To enforce compliance with laws on discharge of ballast waters and by extension protect the environment, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said it would begin inspection of all vessels calling at the nation’s ports, and has concluded plans to establish a treatment facility at the seaports.
Speaking at a sensitisation programme in Lagos, the NPA General Manager, Health, Safety and Environment (HSE), Yusuf Ahmed, said the move, in line with the Ballast Water Management Convention, which came into force in September 2017, was targeted at protecting the nation’s environment.
“We are going to step up the inspection of ships calling on Nigeria to see from their record if they have done the exchange in line with the regulations,” he said. “It has to be done properly and there has to be designated areas from where they can do that.
“We have designed methodology for ensuring that we do what is expected of us under the convention, and to implement that, we have decided to bring together stakeholders, including shipping companies and everybody we feel will be affected, to discuss the convention and understand their feelings and expectations.”
On the treatment facility, Ahmed disclosed that “with well over 6,000 ships plying the seas, the cost of fitting these systems is in millions of dollars. So, ships are not very eager to put in place those systems; that is why you find that only about five to 10 per cent of ships have so far bought the onboard treatment plant.
“The other option is to have treatment facilities onshore in the country of destination. We have plan for that, though it is not going to be immediate. The IMO has realized that, too, and has given a deadline of 2022 for either the ship to have onboard treatment or ensure there is onshore treatment where it is going.
“So, we are working towards providing treatment facilities in our ports in the long run, because we anticipate that many ships will rather patronise onshore treatment facility than fit onboard treatment on the ships, because of the cost and processes involved.
“So, there is a huge market potential for that and we are capitalising on that, but for now, even before the implementation, we are going to rely on the exchange and ensure that ships do the exchange.”