Lawyer Calls for Executive Bill on Effective E-waste Management

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Emma Okonji

A telecoms lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, has called on the federal government to quickly come up with an Executive Bill to address electronic waste (e-waste) management in the country in order to tame its corresponding health hazards.

Disturbed by the rising rate of e-waste dumpsites in developing countries including Nigeria, and the potential health danger such dumpsites pose to people, the Secretary-General, International Telecoms Union (ITU), Houlin Zhao, recently charged developing nations to come up with e-waste policies in their various countries to address this challenge.

According to him, “Currently, 66 per cent of the world population is covered by national e-waste management laws, an increase from 44 per cent that were covered in 2014. Reliable and official data and statistics on e-waste provide the foundation for sound e-waste legislation and management at the national level.”

Speaking with THISDAY in a telephone interview, Ogunye said it was absolutely necessary for Nigeria to have E-waste Management Act, adding that we must not wait for international bodies like ITU to remind us on what to do to address the increasing rate of e-waste dumpsites across the country, especially in Lagos.

According to him, “Nigeria needs a law of such nature that requires tech expertise and foreign investors who understand the business of e-waste recycling to effectively manage the situation.”

Ogunye called on the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, set up an inter-ministerial ad-hoc committee comprising of people from various ministries like the Ministries of Health, Communications, Science and Technology, Trade and Investment.

“The inter-ministerial committee will first look at the existing global laws on e-waste, review them and develop a working document. The committee will then work with the Ministry of Justice to draft an Executive Bill that will be sent to the National Assembly for passage, before it will be assented into law by the President of Nigeria,” Ogunye

advised.

He, however, said the framework for the draft bill must include tech startups that would gather e-waste and the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), who manufactured the electronic equipment in order to have an understanding with them on how best to recycle damaged, malfunctioning and used electronic gadgets after the expiration of their lifespan.

“Nigeria has developed its municipal solid waste management system, yet government is not doing anything meaningful in that area. We have a lot of plastics waste around our lagoons and rivers, causing environmental hazards to humans and water creatures. We are good at burning wastes and in the process, we create health hazards for people living around the areas where those wastes are burnt,” Ogunye said.