Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) would begin the interception of vessels to inspect their compliance with the ballast water conventions in a fortnight.
The Ballast Water Convention is an instrument of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) designed to check the intake and discharge of water by ships and the hazards.
Engr. Sani Shehu, Senior Manager, Environment NPA made this known at the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN), capacity building training on International Maritime Conventions, in Lagos.
He noted that in the past the Authority had not commenced the inspection because it does not have the wherewithal to commence ship inspection.
He assured that the Authority would be targeting vessels from Europe, an area known for high level of pathogens, as well as vessels plying coastal trade in Africa.
The MARAN training was a two-day event in collaboration with NPA.
Sani defined ballast water as water taken into the bottom of the vessel to provide weight and for the purpose of increasing additional stability.
He said this water taken from one area to another could be an avenue through which Harmful Acquatic Organisms and Pathogens (HAOP) are transferred from one place to another.
Speaking, he said “NPA has spent so much money on constructing its laboratory to test these waters. The treatment facility would be used by NPA to attend to all conventions including MARPOL and other future conventions”
“In the whole of Africa, Nigeria is the only country that has stepped up its ballast water compliance with the acquisition of this sediment treatment plant, other countries cannot afford it because it is expensive.
He assured that NPA would commission the sediment treatment facility in two weeks time.
“Shipping has been widely recognised as a major component of international trade, driving the most effective means of transporting bulk cargoes and passengers across borders of water from one place to another over long distance.
“For safety of ships and oil tankers, ballast water is required to maintain stability throughout their voyages especially when empty or having insufficient load,” he said.
Shehu pointed that before now, NPA was not checking for compliance because the convention had not come into law, adding that Ballast Water Management Convention was a new thing that NPA wanted to capture into their activities.
He said that before, for ships that had the same coastal line with Nigeria like Ghana, they might not bother to check but for international ships, they needed to discharge their ballast water 200km away from the country.
He noted that going forward, a sample of ballast water of an incoming ship would be taken for analysis to a sediment reception facility to check for harmful species.
He reiterated that in the whole of West Africa, it was only Nigeria that had the sediment treatment facility.
He listed some of the challenges of the convention as: source of funds, no ballast water sediment treatment facility, insufficient trained manpower to the programme and others.
He said that for the Basel Convention was established in 1980 to control the transboundry movement of hazardous waste and their disposal.
Shehu said that as regards the Marpol 73/78 Convention, the oil pollution of the territorial waters which was recognised as a problem led to regulation and the introduction of the convention.
He said that for implementation and enforcement, signatory nation pledged to comply with the convention and laws as the effect was damaging to the marine life, wildlife, fishing, tourism and wetlands.
He said that zero tolerance of illegal discharges from ships could only be effectively enforced when there are adequate reception facilities in ports, adding that NPA had environmental department in ports to checkmate this.
He noted that the objectives was to ensure disposal of hazardous waste was done closer to source of generation, minimise the generation, apply strict control across borders and prohibit shipment of hazardous waste.