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You Can Arrest Noise Pollution Agents ––NESREA Director
A large population of Nigerians is accustomed to noise pollution which emanates from different sources like generating sets, organised sound systems and sirens, among others, with attendant health hazards. In a chat with Mr Victor Ojogbo, Deputy Director of National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Abuja, on Wednesday, Nigerians, he said, could involve the agency if their right to a serene environment was violated.
With the Nigerian experience, how do you intend to enforce all the regulations your agency just rolled out to the populace?
The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) does not work alone. We work in partnership with all stakeholders. We’ve been having a lot of fora of stakeholders to ensure that we are all partners in this process of enforcement. Everybody has a key role to play including the media to ensure the people are very much aware of the regulations. The civil societies and other regulatory agencies of government are also key players and are all keying into the NESREA project. We have all the processed issues relating to these regulations on our website and we are enlightening the people through publications. So, after enough enlightenment, we will go all out to enforce the regulations.
How do you intend to reach out to people at the grassroots concerning the regulations you just rolled out?
I’ve said it earlier that we shall involve all stakeholders including both electronic and print media. It means we have to involve people in our project. We have representaives from NESREA Green Corps - an arm being institutionalised by NESREA. We are initiating this community-based group to saddle them with the responsibility of sensitising people at the grassroots and to help propagate what NESREA stands for. They are to tell the people that cleanliness is next to godliness and that if they are able to make their environment clean, every other thing about them, even their health, will be guaranteed.
What is your body doing about noise pollution all over the place? Are there regulations to this effect?
Yes, we have a regulation concerning noise pollution. The issue of noise pollution concerning, especially telecommunications outfit, is mainly about their generating sets. And we have a regulation concerning radiation also. So, what NESREA is doing is to ensure that noise does not exceed a particular level as contained in our regulations. But every Nigerians can always report noise pollution from generating sets and from whatever in their area to any NESREA office. People should be aware that there are regulations as per noise pollution in the country. They should get NESREA to take action when their environment is besieged by noise pollution from any source.
But we all know that the enforcement of these rules and regulations is very difficult in Nigeria. There are pollutions everywhere – noise, air, water and what have you. During the last labour unrest, youths took to the streets burning tyres and thereby polluting the air with toxic gaseous substances. In real terms, how will your agency handle the enforcement of the regulations guiding all these?
Enforcing the laws in real terms is derived from our regulations. The power is bestowed on us from our regulations. And NESREA is trying hard to make the populace aware of them. We also have delineated roles that are being given to the three tiers of government. These issues are tackled by either the local government or by the state government. It is only when they are not doing what they are supposed to do that we come to help. For now, issue of noise pollution is supposed to be handled by local governments. We expect the local government to go ahead and enforce the laws because the laws are there. State laws can be more stringent than national laws. National laws are basic. All it takes is just to let people know that if you do it, there is a penalty to pay. We have all the penalties; they are clearly stated.
Do you control how state and local governments dispose or manage their wastes? Because in Oyo State, there is a place where these wastes are just dumped to the detriment of residents of the area. Where do you come in concerning this?
Yes, we have the oversight function of monitoring. But the main responsibility lies within the purview of the state and local governments. It is the duty of the state government to provide waste dump or site where municipal wastes are dumped. They are supposed to manage the sites very well in such an environmentally-friendly manner. What I think is happening is that the government, maybe due to funds or any other reason, is not really taking serious the management of wastes in their domains. Some state governments are already doing that.
Is there any way you can encourage them in the area of the new technology of wastes recycling instead of just talking about disposal?
Yes, NESREA is doing that. We are undertaking a project now in Ekiti and Rivers states on waste management. We are providing bins so that wastes are segregated and sorted from households. Things that are recyclable are beind removed; you have a bin for biodegradable and another for non-biodegradable elements so that the items will now be taken to either the dumpsite for biodegradable items or recycled by some of these companies. For instance, you know scavengers at dump sites pick metallic objects to sell. They actually make fortunes from these items. So, if the household wastes are gathered and segregated and sorted in an organised way, they can be sold to companies which make use of them which will end up increasing the revenue base of government and the people.
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