Welcoming the lawmakers to the cross-learning dialogue, the director of Inter-sector Services Network (ISN) at the NEA, Momodou Jaama Suwareh, said: “The atmosphere is a very important resource for mankind and other living things on earth. It houses the ozone layer which protects life on earth from ultraviolet radiation. This radiation from the sun reaches the earth as a result of the refrigerants we use in our air conditioning systems, refrigerators, freezers and in fish processing factories. These refrigerants do not only deplete the ozone layer but contribute immensely to the warming of the earth and the atmosphere that surrounds us.”
A depleted ozone layer, he said, leads to increase in skin cancer, eye cataracts, suppression of the body’s immune system, reduction in crop yields and destruction of phytoplankton, the basic food stuff of our marine creatures like fish which could eventually lead to a drastic decline in the fish population throughout the world.
Dilating on the political will, Director Suwareh, noted that the government of The Gambia ratified the Montreal Protocol in 1990 leading to the successful phasing out of all chloro-fluoro-carbons (CFCs) from The Gambia by 31 December 2009. He said there should not be any complacency and warned that there is a high possibility of illegal smuggling and trade in ozone depleting substances (ODS) thereby posing a big challenge to curb the menace.
In a bid to ensure that the phasing out of CFCs are sustained, the National Ozone Unit of the NEA with support from Unep has trained at least 300 refrigeration technicians and established a Refrigeration Technicians Associations in seven regions of The Gambia and that at least 200 customs and other security officers were trained and certificated. He said the association has been provided with modern tools and equipment for the recovery of ODSs as well as the retrofitting of old refrigeration appliances with ozone friendly refrigerants. To ensure a continuous monitoring of the illegal trade of banned refrigerants, major customs entry points across the county have been supplied with refrigerant identifiers to test any suspected refrigerant canisters.
Mr Suwareh said the training for the parliamentarians was part of an ongoing institutional, academic and media sensitisation and awareness creation using different outlets to reach out to the grassroots on the protection and preservation of the ozone layer and the atmosphere throughout the country.
“We shall be judged by what we have done to protect our environment and therefore to protect us and generations yet unborn, so it is incumbent on us all to plant more trees, use ozone friendly refrigerants and educate each other on the dangers associated with the use of ODSs and atmospheric pollutants,” Suwareh told the lawmakers at the Tranquil Resort Hotel.
Samba Badjie, NEA`s programme officer for ODS said it was as a result of The Gambia government’s unrelenting commitment to both the Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol under President Jammeh, that The Gambia was two years ago awarded a plaque in recognition of the country’s vital role in the protection and preservation of the ozone layer by Unep.
Mr Badjie said it was incumbent on all to plant more trees, use ozone friendly refrigerants, stop the burning of fossil fuel and educate each other on the dangers associated with the use of ODSs and atmospheric pollutants.
The chairman of the environment select committee, Ousman Bah, enjoined his colleagues to go back to their electorate and sensitise them on what they learnt during the course of the training. He assured the NEA of the unflinching support and collaboration of the lawmakers in the elimination of substances that deplete the ozone layer. He said lawmakers will leave no stone unturned in their quest to ensure that only the right and applicable substances will be allowed to enter The Gambia.]]>