Government to check pollution with N2.96 billion GEF project

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World Bank wants speedy execution of project to curb the negative impact of organic pollutants.By Ata Udo

The Federal Government says it has commenced the implementation of $18.5million, (N1.94 billion) Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) management project to curb the menace of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the country.

The project is being financed by the Global Environmental Fund (GEF) in partnership with the Federal Government, with World Bank providing technical assistant.

The project is designed to help improve public health and environmental quality by preventing the environmental release of PCBs from active and decommissioned electrical equipment emanating from the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) facilities and other private sectors such as oil refineries, airports and textile mills.

On completion, the project is expected to ensure the sound management and ultimate safe disposal of the pollutants. While the Federal Government is expected to contribute about $12.2million (N1.94 billion) as counterpart funding, the GEF, an independent financial organisation that unites 182 member governments in partnership with the international institutions, will commit $6.3million (N1.02 billion) to the project.

The World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Marie Francoise Marrie-Nelly, who was represented by Badrul Haque at the formal launching of the project, said that the implementation of the four-year based PCB project would help in the safe disposal of estimated 3,000 tons of PCB oil and 5,000 tons of PB contaminated equipment in the country.

Ms. Marrie-Nelly said that the prompt implementation of the programme would not only safeguard the health of the people, but also ensure environmental sustainability.

“Through the timely implementation of the PCB, environmental and health risks in Nigeria could be reduced substantially by safe disposal of the existing stockpiles and development of a management system for safe disposal of future toxic wastes,” she said.

Ms. Marrie-Nelly underscored the focus of the Bank in environmental protection, saying its target “is to address development of programs to phase out the production and use of toxic chemicals, identification of alternative technologies, and encourage the safe disposal of existing toxic stockpiles.”

On the imperative of the PCB project, the Minister of Environment, Hadiza Mailafia, said when completed, it would facilitate awareness among key stakeholders and general public, improve regulations, enhance physical facilities for the management of PCBs and PCB-containing equipment, and improve national capacity to manage PCBs in an efficient and environmentally sound manner.

The Minister, who was represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary, Haruna Taiwo, also said that the ministry had directed its Department of Erosion Control to come up with a list of programmes, for the effective implementation of the project, before the end of the month.