The Federal Government on Monday inaugurated new programmes to curb air pollution largely caused by the transport sector in the country.
The programmes are: National Emissions Control Programmes (NECP), Generator Emission Control Programme (NGECP) and Vehicular Emission Control Programme (NVECP).
Minister of Environment, Mr Muhammed Abdullahi, who spoke at the unveiling of the programme in Abuja, said the transport sector has been identified as the major source of air pollution in the country.
He said the exercise was being organised by the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA).
Abdullahi urged relevant stakeholders to support the Federal Government`s effort for effective implementation of the programmes to ensure cleaner and healthier environment.
According to him, it is worthy of mentioning that road transportation in Nigeria with over 12 million vehicles flying the roads is playing a key role in the socio-economic development of the country.
“Unfortunately, despite significant advances in fuel efficiency and emission reduction, the transport sector remained one of the major sources of air pollution in Nigeria.
“Meanwhile, considering the magnitude of air pollution on the environment and human health, NESREA cannot do the work alone, stakeholders’ involvement is required for effective implementation of the programmes.
“The stakeholders are all key in the implementation process, therefore, we are calling on all of you including the general public to join hands with NESREA in ensuring a cleaner and healthier environment.
“We all stand to benefit from the programmes, environmentally and economically but, we must first cultivate the seeds now so that we, as well as our future generations can reap the harvest.
“Together we ensure sustainable development and make our country great,” he said.
The minister, who expressed concern over the indiscriminate use of power generators for both domestic and industrial purposes, said the trend contributed to the poor air quality in the environment.
He explained that the situation affected negatively not only to the environment but human health by increasing the quantity of harmful pollutants.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the year 2016, ambient air pollution is responsible for 4.2 million deaths worldwide.
“It is estimated to cause about 16 per cent of lung cancer deaths and 25 per cent of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
“Also, about 17 per cent of ischemic heart disease and stroke, and about 26 per cent of respiratory infection deaths,” he said.
Abdullahi also called for more support of the international organisation towards combating air pollution, noting that it was one of the greatest health and environmental challenges.
He said the programmes had been designed to address the emissions from mobile and stationary sources, adding that it also aimed at cutting down emissions of pollutants from generators’ stationary source as well as vehicles’ mobile source.
The programmes, he said, would be implemented under the Public Private Partnership (PPP), and involve periodic testing of the generators and vehicles for toxic and greenhouse gases emissions.
“In this strategy, the responsibility of NESREA will be to set national emission standards and to develop a reliable national database management system for all emissions data generated from the programmes.
“The implementation of the NGECP will be starting with power generating sets of capacity from 10 KVA and above.
“While for NVECP the lowest limit will be Euro III emission standard as agreed at the ECOWAS regional level,’’ he said.
The minister said that part of the NESREA`s mandate was to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement as spelled out in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
Abdullahi added that the objectives of the programme was to create public awareness on indiscriminate use of ill-maintained generators and vehicles, their environmental and health implications.
He also said that the programmes among others were aimed at generating data on vehicular and generator emissions to improve the air quality of the country.
The Director-General of the NESREA, Prof. Aliyu Jauro said the Federal Government was concerned with the environmental problems and was not relenting efforts in curbing the threat.
He said the vision of the agency was to ensure a cleaner and healthier environment, adding that NESREA has recorded numerous milestones over decade of environmental governance.
Also speaking, Mr Awwal Nakata, Assistant Director, Directorate of Road Traffic Services, Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO), said that the agency would continue to support the NESREA to ensure effective implementation of the programmes.
By Vivian Emoni