Banning “pure water”: An unkind gesture to the very poor in Nigeria

On December 17, 2013, the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reported that the Ministry of Environment had a Stakeholders Workshop on the phasing out of the use of non-biodegradable plastics in the country. According to the report the Workshop was to sensitize Nigerians about this phasing out programme and to develop action plan for the phasing out programme.

In the report below which was carried by the Vanguard a draft action plan was already adopted by these stakeholders. Either there was not enough publicity given to this workshop or the ‘stakeholders’ in the sector was poorly defined because as a practicing environmentalist, the news about this workshop was unknown to me. If one may ask ‘ who are these stakeholders who adopted the action plan and what is the content of this action plan?’ This blogger is interested in knowing whether the Water and Environmental Sanitation (WES) officers in each LGA were invited to this stakeholders workshop.

Probably the government intends merely to rely on stopping the plastic bags manufacturer from producing these bags. However, because of our corrupt nature the manufacturers of sachet  water and the market women and men can easily bring into the country the banned products manufactured in neighboring countries. This is why enforcement of the ban at the lowest administrative level is the way to go.

The success on phasing out light non-biodegradable plastics in China and South Africa, which the NAN’s report referred to below is due to the fact that there are institutions in place in these two countries to enforce the ban. If one may ask which institutions are to enforce this ban in Nigeria? Even if there are institutions in Nigeria for this purpose, it is common knowledge that any new regulation in the country is an avenue, for the people who are responsible for its enforcement, to make fraudulent money.

In August 2013 the Leadership Newspaper reported Sokoto Government’s humble plan to solve the problem posed by discarded polythene bags. The plan involves using unemployed youths in the collection of these bags, building  recycling plants and partnering with the Federal Government. The efforts of Sokoto State Government was commended by this blogger. (  ). May be the Federal Government should borrow a leave from the Sokoto project.

Comments – DEPO ADENLE.


FG to phase out water satchets, other plastics

 Vanguard, January 30, 2014 

Abuja—The Federal Ministry of Environment has developed a draft action plan for the phasing out of light weight non-biodegradable plastics in the country, a top official of the ministry, said, yesterday.

 The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Abuja, said that the draft action plan had already been adopted by stakeholders in the sector.

He recalled that the ministry, in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, UNIDO, had in December 2013, organised a workshop to sensitise Nigerians on the process.

“What we intend to do now is to follow the implementation of the action plan since the awareness has already started; the next step is to source funds from UNIDO to implement the plan. “Once we have funds, we will continue with other activities in the process of phasing out heavy non-biodegradable plastics.”

The official said it was not possible to completely phase out non-biodegradable plastics because of its importance in the society.

He cited the example of a plastic chair, which is a non-biodegradable component, to buttress his point.

He said that the ministry would start with the phasing out of light weight non-degradable plastics such as table water sachets and polythene bags.

“Those countries that have succeeded in phasing out the substance started with placing a ban on the light weight ones.

“Countries like China and South Africa have placed outright ban on light weight plastic bags while some other countries have placed tax levies on the manufacture, retailer and buyers of light weight bags.

“We are going to be gradual in the phasing out process as well, so that we will not cause havoc to the livelihood of people working in the industry.

“We will also use alternative sources that are economically feasible and environment-friendly to replace the non-degradable products,” the official said.

He further said that the ministry would start the process of phasing out with a pilot project whereby manufacturers would be required to introduce a substance called “addictive” that would reduce the non-biodegradable component in their products.

NAN reports that several countries have adopted measures to reduce the production and use of plastic materials by the imposition of taxes, fines, restriction or outright ban of plastic shopping bags.

The countries include South Africa, Taiwan, Kenya, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Mecedonia, China, Hong Kong, Denmark, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico and United Arab Emirates, among others.


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