By Godfrey Bivbere
In compliance with the directive by the Federal Government that the ship, M.V. Marevia loaded with two containers of e-waste be shipped back to its country of origin, the vessel was Friday re-loaded with its deadly cargo and waiting for clearance to sail back to the United Kingdom.
The vessel however completed the discharge of other containers which did not contain toxic materials before it was re-loaded to commence its departure from the country.
The Minister of Transport. Senator Idris Umar who visited Berth Four, Tin-Can Island Container Terminal, TICT, located at the Tin-Can Island Port to get first hand information of the situation on the matter from officials of National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, NESREA, made this known in Lagos yesterday.
Umar was informed that the NESREA was awaiting clearance from its head office in Abuja before it could clear the vessel to leave the Nigerian shores.
Umar had assured that he would connect NESREA Director General, Dr. Ngeri Benebo to get current details to enable the ship embark on its return journey.
However, a source close to the Tin-can Island Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, told Saturday Vanguard that the officials of NESREA who conducted the examination yesterday morning had visited the Customs Area Controller, Tunji Aremu; earlier yesterday to brief him on the outcome of their examination.
Public Relations Officer of the Command, Chris Osunkwo, confirmed to Saturday Vanguard that officials of NESREA actually visited his boss but could not say the reason for the visit.
The Director General of NESREA, Dr. Benebo told Saturday Vanguard at about 3pm that she was in a meeting and promised to call back later.
The Director General was called again at 4pm, 5pm and 5.30pm respectively but she declined comments, saying she was in front of the Minister’s office to brief the minister on the issue and requested Saturday Vanguard to call back again, no matter how late.
But, reacting to the situation, the immediate past President of Nigeria Institute of Shipping, NIS, Sir Caleb Okoye, said it would be difficult to stop the importation of such toxic materials because there were several dubious business men who would always try to cut corners to make huge profit and advised security agencies to be vigilant to prevent such goods from coming into the country.
Okoye explained that the shipping companies can not be blamed over the importation of toxic waste because they they only rely on what the owner of the goods declare.
He further pointed out that the international convention to which Nigeria was a signatory does not allow for the detention of vessel unnecessarily and therefore asked government not to detain the ship more than necessary.