Women in Maritime Laments Nigeria’s Ranking in Global Plastic Pollution 

Gilbert Ekugbe

Women in the maritime sector and other experts have expressed worries over Nigeria’s ranking in the top ten countries for mismanagement of plastics globally.

According to reports, Nigeria ranks ninth globally among countries with the highest contributions to plastic pollution.

This was the crux at the Lagos International Maritime Week.

Speaking on the theme, “Marpol at 50: Pollution From Ships, Africa’s Commitment To Clean Oceans, Seas, Inland Waters & Marine Environment,” the president of Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria, Mrs. Eunice Ezeoke, stressed the need for legislation and other innovative approaches to curb plastic wastes.

She pointed out that WISTA and other women maritime groups in the country would explore pet projects in recycling in a bid to convert waste to wealth, especially as the Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA) states that the untapped Nigerian plastic waste sector is worth over N2.2billion.

Ezeoke highlighted that the activities of drilling companies as major contributors to water pollution, especially in the South-South region which records a high volume of the nation’s oil drilling operations.

Also speaking, the president of African Women in Maritime (WIMA) Nigeria, Mrs. Rollens Macfoy, noted that pollution from vessels such as ballast water, also have damaging effect, but stressed that there are laws and regulations to address the menace.

According to Macfoy, domestic wastes, including all plastics and every other non-degradable waste that is not properly disposed, find their ways into the waters, thereby destroying aquatic life and also endangering water transportation.

She also lamented that even Lagos State lacks appropriate dumpsites and recycling facilities, among others, stressing that waste management activities of Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) has been haphazard with residents in areas like Igando suffering environmental and health challenges from LAWMA operations.

She further called for appropriate legislation, which will require the manufacturers of plastic containers, among others, as well as those seeking licenses to operate to have a chain-return process that will ensure that their wastes return to them for recycling or appropriate disposal.

On the recent practice of burning vessels seized on allegation of conveying stolen crude, Justice Olayinka Faji of the Federal High Court described it as further compounding the problem of marine pollution.

Justice Faji, who represented the President, Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, stated that though he does not have the terms under which the vessels were burnt, “the laws have sufficient provisions, including forfeiture, for such breaches.”

Meanwhile, the women in maritime associations have called for better recognition and appointment to enable them effect the necessary changes that will bring about positive gender-driven developments in the industry.

Ezeoke explained that WISTA aims at bridging the gender gap in the profession and leadership positions in the maritime industry, trading and logistics, stating that the association has been promoting the engagement and grooming of women in the different segments of the industry.

She regretted that women are getting more support in other African countries, in line with the 30 percent affirmative action, but less than 5 percent in Nigeria.

According to her, rather than being at the helm of affairs for decision-making, they are used to garnish the leadership positions without visibility.

“A board of 10 members will be created for a corporate body and you have only one woman. Even the 35 per cent affirmative action is becoming ineffective. Why will one woman be used to garnish a committee made up of 12 men? Government finds it difficult to appoint women in some positions. Some federal government agencies in Nigeria have never been headed by a woman, ”she lamented.

Backing her call, Macfoy described their associations as a shipping hub, adding that they have written the Minister to, “shop from us, because we have the capacity.”

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