This was echoed by NEMA Deputy Executive Director, Christine Echookit Akello as she addressed a host of officials from the Uganda Revenue Authority customs department
PIC:Christine Echookit,NEMA Deputy ED addressing the officials
The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) has called upon government to establish a ceiling on the age of used motor vehicles and other refrigeration equipment imported into the country.
This was echoed by NEMA Deputy Executive Director, Christine Echookit Akello as she addressed a host of officials from the Uganda Revenue Authority customs department.
This was during the third training workshop for customs officers pertaining to monitoring trade in substances and equipment controlled under the Montreal Protocol (1988) on substances that deplete the ozone layer and have great impact on climate change. The training was held at Ridar Hotel, Seeta, Mukono district.
It was also attended by officials from Uganda National Bureau of Standards, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives and the police.
This two day training was organised by NEMA in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Echookit emphasized that in a bid to curb the rate at which the ozone layer is being depleted, Uganda as party to several Multi-lateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) should be mindful on the kinds of motor vehicles imported.
“We should avoid importation of very old cars into this country because of their potential to deplete the ozone layer. It should also be noted that most of such cars have already entered into their end of life phase and are now just being disposed of by the exporting countries looking for dumping grounds,” she stated.
“Uganda should handle this urgently because under the Montreal Protocol, we look at substances that deplete the ozone layer and such vehicles contain the depleting substances,” she added.
She revealed that NEMA is going to engage in discussions with URA and the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in respect to stoppage of importation of certain vehicle models.
“We hope this time round, our voices will be heard because there is no point having a flood of all sorts of vehicles in this country while our citizens move around as living dead. The levels of pollution in our environment are too much due to exposure to all the hazardous substances emitted by such motor vehicles. As a country, we need to be a productive workforce and a generation of people that will live longer to enjoy the fruits of our works,” she explained.
“We also are a country with a very huge dependency ratio; with a lot of people in the workforce feeling the strain of taking care of their relatives. The more years citizens will live, the more opportunity they will have to take care of their dependants and get them out of that dependency bracket and be able to take care of their own selves,” she added.
She urged that Government looks more into the health aspect of this nation rather than just the revenue benefits. “We have to see beyond revenue. We need to also focus on the health component of what we import. Much as trade is vital for our growth and development as a nation, environmental considerations must also be paramount in this country,” she elaborated.
This she said as she was pointing out the challenges NEMA has faced in the implementation of the MEAs which Uganda is party to.
Echookit also cited the challenge of porous borders points which have made the implementation of bans on environmentally hazardous items a complicated exercise.
This was reechoed by some of the customs officials who stated that there was great need to be trained on how to identify outlawed ozone depleting substances entering the country. “Most of the cylinders carrying the refrigerants are not labeled and this makes it hard to detect whether they are the recommended ones or fake,” one officer pointed out.