BY EGUFE YAFUGBORHI
PORT HARCOURT – TO meaningfully battle incidences of oil pollution in the marine environment, the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, has acquired its first shallow and deep water intervention vessel since its establishment in 2006.
The 19-metre pollution intervention vessel, christened Recovery 1 was unveiled in Port Harcourt, Rivers State by the Minister of Environment, Mrs. Hadiza Mailafia, raising hopes among industry stakeholders of a cleaner and safer operating environment.
The minister acknowledged that while impact of oil spills on the producing environment had been colossal and retarded the local economies of the host communities, NOSDRA has since coming on board demonstrated meaningful material capacity to meet its mandate of leading response management through containment, recovery and remediation in impacted environments.
Mrs Mailafia said: “In 2012, I visited the Bonga spill and was worried that we do not have a boat of this capacity to do our work. The investment in this spill fighting vessel will go a long way to strengthen Nigeria’s bid to be the preferred hub of regional incident command centre under the Global Initiative for West, Central and South Africa, WACAF.”
The minister, however, noted that no amount of facility or capacity acquisition by NOSDRA would be substantial enough to check increasing oil spills aggravated by pipeline vandalism, oil theft and associated activities, adding that the lasting solution rest on the proposed NOSDRA Amendment Bill 2012.
She said: “When this bill is passed into law, deliberate oil spillage would become a criminal offence. It is only then that our efforts would become holistic, otherwise it would remain superficial in yielding the desired result of zero tolerance to oil spills in the Nigerian environment.”