NIMASA to Enforce 0.5% Sulphur Limit on Vessels Sailing Nigerian Waters

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Dakuku Peterside

Eromosele Abiodun

In a bid to battle environmental pollution, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, Thursday said the agency would enforce strict compliance to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulation which puts a maximum of 0.5 per cent sulphur cap on all fuel used by vessels by the year 2020.

Dakuku made this known while speaking at the ongoing maritime week in Dubai.

He said part of the requirements adopted at the 73rd meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the United Nations maritime organ was to reduce the sulphur content permitted in ships’ fuel oil globally to 0.5 per cent with effect from January 1, 2020.

According to him, “The 2020 fuel challenge is geared towards energy efficiency, environmental pollution control and health as well as core regulatory enforcement issues. As a maritime country, we cannot afford not to comply with the IMO standard which will also do a lot in mitigating global warming and other related environmental issues.”

Speaking further, the NIMASA boss said the IMO ban, which relates to fuel intended for combustion, propulsion and operation purposes on board ships, would enter into force on March 1, 2020, adding that all member states are expected to comply with the stated standards by this date.

He said it was in the best interest of Africa to ensure compliance considering the fact that majority of the countries on the continent do not have the technology to mitigate harmful effects of high sulphuric fuel on the environment, ocean and human life .

Peterside enumerated some of the steps the agency plans to take to manage the transition and ensure compliance. He noted that NIMASA would embark on massive enlightenment, stakeholders’ engagement and liaison as well as collaboration with fuel refiners and suppliers. He also said the agency would have a schedule for pre-enforcement information before the commencement of the proper enforcement.

Commenting on the best way to enforce compliance, Peterside said ship owners, classification societies, NGOs, fuel storage facilities, and other stakeholders will all play a part in determining modalities of ensuring compliance.

The IMO has been working to reduce harmful effects of shipping on environment since 1960. The Annex VI to the International Convention for the Prevention of pollution from ships (MARPOL) was adopted in 1997 to address air pollution from shipping.

The regulation 14.1.3 of Annex VI of the Convention seeks to control airborne emissions of compounds such as sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides and other ozone depleting substances arising from shipping activities in order to mitigate its effects on health and the environment.