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e-waste: ‘Weak policy will cause more health disasters’

e-waste: ‘Weak policy will cause more health disasters’

February 12, 2020
Chika Okeke

In Nigeria, the country’s chief scientific officer of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) department within the Federal Ministry of Environment, Modupe Odimayo, has expressed concern that if the country’s government fails to implement policies to address the importation of e-waste, it will almost certainly lead to further health and environmental catastrophe

This is even as she opined on the need for decisive actions in the management of e-waste, adding that e-waste management in Nigeria is very significant to the environment as it pollutes both the ground and surface water, including the atmosphere.

Odimayo revealed her stance in Abuja during a recent one-day stakeholders’ meeting organized by Xploits Consulting in partnership with Access Bank, under the theme ‘E-waste Management in Nigeria: Creating a Roadmap for Efficient Management’.

Odimayo maintained that the EIA department is working assiduously to complement the existing guidelines by issuing permits to companies in the private sector, such as Ibeto Group, which are involved in the management of e-waste.

The convener of the meeting, Dr Tayo Taiwo, said that although government has embarked on lots of initiatives on e-waste that Nigeria is a populous and consuming nation, adding that Nigerians’ desire for electronics can translate to health and environmental risks.

Taiwo, who is also the managing partner of Xploits Consulting, pointed out that he had earlier kicked back against the arrest of ‘hawkers’ by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) but suggested that it’s impossible to maintain order in the city without enforcement.

For his part, the director-general (DG) of National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Professor Aliyu Jauro, hinted that the extraction process of e-waste is risky and should be handled by refineries and not scavengers, adding that the extraction of materials should be conducted within an enclosed system and not through open burning that is accompanied by unexplainable health issues.

Jauro, who was represented by Miranda Amachree, the director of Inspection and Enforcement, NESREA, recalled that the Basel Action Network (BAN) in conjunction with BCC Nigeria had in 2005 carried out a study that revealed that Nigeria imported about 500,000 used computers annually through the Port of Lagos alone. Amachree pointed out that out of the 500,000 computers, about 25% were functional ‘Used Electrical/Electronics Equipment’ (UEEE) while the remaining 75% was merely junk, which was eventually burned or dumped carelessly with municipal waste.

The director also disclosed that the ‘Person-in-Port (PIP) project’ conducted by the United Nations University in 2016 confirmed that estimated 60,000 tons of UEEE was imported through the two main ports in Lagos excluding the land routes, even as most imported UEEE was partially functional while a fraction remained non-functional.

The DG stated that the agency issued permits on toxic substance and air quality to industries as well as registered waste handlers and major collecting centers and not the informal sector.

Also speaking, the managing director of Ecosphere Consult, Damilola Adesina, said that the government’s efforts on handling e-waste was primarily centered on controlling its importation. He asked why government agencies such as NESREA, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other environmental agencies could not harmonize their regulations for enhanced operational service to Nigerians.

Alhaji Ahmed Sanda, the president of the Association of Environmental Impact Assessment in Nigeria (AEIAN), noted that although Nigeria lacked the human capacity to manage e-waste that there is great opportunity in waste management. Sanda tasked the convener of the meeting to reach out to the association of scavengers popularly called ‘Baban bola’ to enable them to collaborate with NESREA on the sound management of this waste stream.

Lending his voice, the director of PRS, Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), Olugbenga Adeyemi, added that the agency doesn’t dispose waste through landfill but open burning, noting that in the hierarchy of waste disposal that landfill is unhealthy for Nigeria.

This, he said, is one of the reasons that the agency is emphasizing recycling through a ‘circular economy’, assuring that with sophisticated technology that AEPB could checkmate any vehicle that dumped waste illegally. He maintained that although there are registered and non-registered collectors that the agency is strategizing to register all vehicles involved in waste collection services.

This article first appeared on Nigeria’s Leadership website

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