NIMASA At 18 : A New Ever Revolving Body

On a calm, cold night, I was standing right beside the river. The warm water rushing onto my feet as I wondered how far we had come. How we went from being very insensitive when it came to water bodies to indeed knowledgeable individuals. This is definitely all thanks to NIMASA for enforcing the laws of MARPOL.

The pollution of marine bodies, which had been a subject of concern for so many years now, even became more serious around the mid-20th century when industrialization, increased shipping activities, chemical spills, and sewage spills led to an incredible rise in marine body pollution. To an extent, we could say everyone was really carefree, and all we cared about was actually getting rid of our waste. None of us cared to know the damage it was doing to where we dumped it.

The ocean, which covers more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface, is definitely far larger than what the land covers. We turned it to an enemy where we could go ahead and dump whatever we wanted; the big factories were also passing out their waste directly into the water bodies. So, when it turned on us and started its wrath, I was not surprised. From experiencing all sorts of waterborne diseases to the effect on aquatic life and, at the end, the effect on us. Shall we even talk about the destruction of properties caused by this? I have an experience to share.

We used to live near a river body, but not so close, as it was at least two streets from ours. People automatically turned it into a dumping ground. So when a heavy storm started that night, windows rattled and roofs drummed, and we all, unaware of the heavy rain falling, had nowhere to go. Blocked by the waste that had been dumped in it, the river tore its banks, and, oh my!

The destruction it caused was so indelible. People’s houses were stripped, properties carted away, and even the piggery farm near the river was not left out. There was not one single pig left when we all got there the next morning. That was the day I saw elderly people cry like babies; it was really bad. It was the first case I experienced, and it will definitely remain evergreen in my memory. I guess this and several other cases broadcast on TV made NIMASA swing into action, inculcating values from the MARPOL and thereby coming to our rescue.

They brought up laws binding the oil spillers, the refuse and sewage dumpers, and the industries that had turned the ocean into waste land. Everyone who contributed to the pollution was held under these laws. If you refuse to obey, you face the consequences. Sometimes I try to imagine what Nigeria might have been like if not for the timely and consistent interference of NIMASA. Oh boy! Disastrous would have been an understatement.

Although, we are not where we want to be yet but the level that has been achieved is indeed very significant. We now have to an extent, peaceful ocean bodies, safe and healthy aquatic lives, conscious humans, and, overall, an undisturbed marine life. This indeed leads us to the theme of this year’s World Maritime Day, which is “MARPOL @ 50: Our commitment goes on.” This theme, aside from outlining the achievements of MARPOL, was also to enunciate the need to decarbonize maritime transport for sustainable development.

I believe this theme was chosen to highlight the need to reduce carbon emissions from the maritime industry and find ways to make it more sustainable. It is definitely a big challenge, because carbon fuels keep being one of the most dangerous and yet unavoidable fuel of this century. Its effect on the ecosystem has been quite distinct and it has even led to the depletion of our ozone layer.

With this, I believe one can only imagine its effect on the marine body. Though it might still seem quite oblique to some people, marine transportation is gradually becoming the new normal, and it has definitely evolved from the traditional one majority of us are used to. The use of ships and vessels, ferries, tourist cruises, and even our naval and military vessels makes use of carbon fuels. These carbon fuels release carbon monoxide, which can be very toxic when inhaled, and also carbon dioxide, which can affect the climate adversely when emitted in high amounts.

So when acidification of marine bodies, climate change, a rise in temperature, a gradual destruction of the marine habitat, and the likes kicked up, it served as a wake-up call that carbon fuels were not only depleting our ecosystem but had also started depleting our rivers too. This increased the need to go carbon-free, which I must say that it is about time. There are several other aspects we can venture into and even biofuels are not left out.

According to Web Search, “biofuels are fuels derived from renewable biological resources, such as plants, algae, or organic waste. They are considered a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional fossil fuels because they can be produced from biomass, which is a replenishable resource.”.

There are different types, which include bioethanol, biodiesel, biogas, and even advanced biofuels. Based on my research, venturing majorly into biogas as fuel for our transport system would totally not be a bad idea. This is because biogas is produced through a natural biological process called anaerobic digestion, which involves the breakdown of organic materials by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen.

Since biogas includes a selection of feedstock like agricultural residues, manure, sewage sludge, food waste, and other organic material, it would serve as a really great method of transferring our wastes into something useful while also not endangering the sea and our ecosystem at large in the process.

When the gas is generated through the step-by-step process, it could either be liquefied or compressed and then used as fuel in vehicles. Biogas is renewable and sustainable, as it drastically reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It also aids in waste management. The use of biogas aligns with the principles of a circular economy, where organic waste is utilized to generate renewable energy and valuable byproducts, contributing to a more sustainable and resilient energy system.

I believe it would serve as a great upgrade from normal carbon fuels and help to arrest the dangers of using carbon fuels before it gets out of hand. Well-done NIMASA and cheers to 50 years of an amazing journey, MARPOL.


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