Environment and IMO Sulphur Cap: Nigeria must first address local environmental degradation- Shipowner

Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, CEO Starzs Group


With the proposed implementation of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) sulphur regulation on emissions from ships just around the corner, January 1, 2020, the shipping world is certainly also preparing for compliance with the sulphur benchmark allowed in emission from ships.
However, that may not be the case for Nigeria, which although is a maritime nation. 

Shipowner and erstwhile President of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) Greg Ogbeifun, wants Nigeria to first pool efforts at addressing the environmental degradation, which has long been a problem.

For the shipowner, the IMO regulation on emissions from ships is welcome, but for Nigeria to begin to embrace any global directive, emissions from electricity-generators, vehicles and industries must be handled effectively.

According to Ogbeifun, the IMO 2020 “Is a desire of the world to begin to pay attention to our environment. We are now talking about the blue ocean, it has to do with the sea. Up till now, the environmental issues had been limited principally to land. Now, we are going to the air.

“A lot of emissions in the atmosphere had been hazardous to mankind. There are different emissions by generators in your compound, from your cars, from the factories, and now from the ship.

“You control the emission from the ship in the Port or on waters. Meanwhile, our trucks on the road, our factories, our generators, our industries are pumping and pushing worst pollution into the atmosphere. Charity begins at home.

“As a nation, we cannot jump at IMO’s regulation without ensuring that jumping at such regulation, we will achieve the desired results. So, alongside considering IMO, we should also start by identifying our national and domestic activities that are contributing towards environmental pollution through emission, or else, we are achieving nothing.”

Nations that have tidied up their own environment and now want to do the same in the global environment is certainly on the right path, Ogbeiful adds.

He said” If you go to London, where IMO is headquartered, their vehicles are already regulating their emission, their factories are already regulating their emission, their trashes are effectively being disposed of, their waters there is no open defecation, no form of pollution of their rivers. So, it makes sense for them to think of controlling the sulphur content that their ships are burning and it is the right thing to do.”

Ogbeifun’s thoughts are that Nigeria must begin by dealing with the problems of adulterated fuel from illegal refineries that are crudely put together, “and   adulterated fuel coming from proper fuel that have been manipulated because of greed.”

Another important reason Nigeria may not be worrying so much, the shipowner said, is the fact that “we have no global trading ships, we are talking of ships coming from outside the country into our ports.

“So, the onus is on them to regulate their emission, control the type of fuel they are burning. So that when they get to our ports, their own emission is meeting international environmental standard.”

However, Nigeria must begin to ensure meeting global standards in environmental protection for land, water and air, Ogbeiful said.