Generator emissions control policy

The federal government’s policy on generator emissions control came into effect on January 1, this year. Codenamed National Generator Emissions Control Programme (NGECP), the strategy is designed to address pollution from generator sources.

Speaking at the official implementation of the programme in Abuja recently, the Director General of National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Dr. Lawrence Anukam, said the initiative would seek to inspect generator sets used for both industrial and household purposes. Failure to comply with the directives is to attract a penalty as stipulated by the law.

Dr. Anukam revealed that about 60 million Nigerians spend a whopping sum of N1.6trn on purchase and maintenance of generators annually as revealed by the Centre for Management Development (CMD).

He noted that clean air was something Nigerians needed for good health and the wellbeing of humans, animals and plants, regretting that the atmosphere was being continually polluted.

The NESREA boss regretted that atmospheric pollution was gradually becoming a serious menace in Nigerian cities, where the use of power generating sets had become an alternative to power supply.

He said the exercise would capture commercial areas in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja in the pilot phase, after which it would be extended to other states of the federation.

Dr. Anukam stressed that the essence of the NGECP was not only to guarantee cleaner environment but also to contribute to the economic growth of the country, pointing out that Nigeria was considering achieving 30 per cent of energy efficiency in industries, homes, businesses, vehicles and renewable energy.

The policy is also aimed at assisting the federal government in taking inventory of the model, age, locations and types of generators currently in use in the country, and also to discourage the use of Nigeria as dumping ground for decrepit and overused equipment. 

Many Nigerians will welcome the new policy with mixed feelings in view of the epileptic state of the country’s power supply which has been accepted as fait accompli. Owning generating sets has become a necessity in this country for business and domestic purposes.

It is a big pity that 58 years after attaining nationhood, the country’s economy is powered by generators. Successive administrations have not been able to address the vexed issues of public power generation despite the establishment of numerous power plants from gas-fired, oil-fired to hydro-driven, located in different parts of the country.

 For instance, the Obasanjo administration was said to have sunk over $16bn on power generation during his eight-year tenure between 1999 and 2007. He bequeathed less than 3,000MW electricity to the country… the volume that the London Heathrow International Airport alone consumes!

The Yar’Adua administration took up the challenge and declared a state of emergency in the sector but the former president was bogged down by ill-health in the two years that he was in the saddle before he passed on.

His successor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, was full of promises to deliver between 6,000MW and 10,000MW at various times. But as if the nation was condemned to as low as 3,000 output, he too got stuck until his six-year tenure came to an end in 2015, even as he unbundled and privatised the electricity generating firm along the line. The exercise said to have been fraught with corruption, cronyism and outright incompetence has brought more darkness to the Nigerian economy.

Presently, the combined generating capacity of electricity in the country stands at 12,500MW with about 75 per cent coming from gas-powered sources. However, far less than 40 per cent of the energy is evacuated and distributed to millions of consumers across the country. Nigerian industries and domestic consumers grunt on daily basis under the weight of running their businesses and homes with alternative power supplies which generating sets provide.

In Nigeria, generators are not luxury items but necessities.  However, most of them constitute a menace to the environment used by small-scale businesses. It is a common sight to have all manner of generators, including the popular and affordable ones called “I pass my neighbour”, used for individual petty trades throbbing noisily and emitting harmful fumes in business premises.

Nigerians are condemned to generator use because they have no choice. The cost of running businesses in Nigeria is prohibitive, leading to high cost of goods and services. It is sad to recall that the collapse of the critical sector led to the disintegration of many industries in Nigeria and migration of others to neighbouring countries.

We enjoin the federal government to tackle the critical challenge that drives Nigerians into generator bondage. Once that is achieved, the menace of air pollution from decrepit generators would be reduced to the barest level. 

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