From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
The National Assembly and the Federal Ministry of Environment will soon ready a bill regulating the production of non-degradable plastics, as the Federal Government tackles marine-based litters on Nigerian waters
A member of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Mr. Tolulope Odebiyi, said the bill would be harmonised with input from the FMoE.
Odebiyi, who drafted the proposed bill, said in Lagos at the launch of the Maritime Action Plan for Marine Litter and Plastics Management in Nigeria by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) that the aim is for a holistic law that would impose tough sanctions on the production of organic polymers.
He assured of the National Assembly’s support for NIMASA on the implementation of its action plan on the elimination of land-based sources of marine litters within five years.
“I am happy NIMASA has taken the lead in ensuring that our waterways and all our water bodies are clean, safe, and a vital source of economic activity for us in this country,” Odebiyi stated.
He said the problem of plastic pollution and proliferation of plastics in the country was getting to an alarming state, and though “NIMASA has taken the lead, this is the backend of it. We also have to look at the frontend.
“We are spending billions of naira tiding up the environment; we also have people making billions of naira contributing to this menace. That is where the bill is aiming.
“You cannot continue to generate pollution, clog our waterways, cause erosion, flooding and all kinds of things, and some people are making money, knowing full well that their product is contributing to the pollution.”
Therefore, “the Senate is very much interested in this issue. We see the environment as a vital economic resource for us in this country. We will be working with NIMASA, Federal Ministry of Environment, and all the other agencies.”
On her part, the Minister of State for Environment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, urged synergy among relevant government agencies and the private sector in the fight against environmental pollution.
Ikeazor assured that the ministry would establish more recycling plants for the collection of plastics and other litters that would be cleared from the oceans.
“You have started right with sensitisation of our people on what to do with plastics,” she noted. “The Ministry of Environment will take this further and put it together to be a national action plan.”
The NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, had earlier lamented that Nigeria was among the 20 countries generating over 80 per cent of the land-based plastic wastes that end up in the oceans.
The event was therefore organised to raise public awareness about the deleterious effects of marine pollution and chart a national roadmap on solution to the menace, he said.
Underscoring the dangers of marine litter and the need for urgent action, Peterside stated that solutions to this global challenge would “require consideration of a systematic approach to the various sources generating the pollution.”
They include “both land and sea-based contributors, and a combination of intervention in different sectors and at different levels.”
He insisted that the focus is setting a national roadmap for tackling pollutions, especially from shipping-related activities.