Nigeria’s continued importation of dirty fuel raises health risks, costs

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Millions of Nigerians risk health and economic consequences following the Federal Government’s failure to meet the deadline on importation of high sulphur (dirty) fuels, The Guardian reports.

A communiqué jointly issued by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Economic Communities of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Commission, and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) noted that switching to low-sulphur diesel and use of cleaner vehicles would result in annual savings in health costs of about $6 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa.

At the ministerial meeting on promoting low sulphur fuel held in Abuja last year, governments in the ECOWAS sub-region had agreed that all imported fuel should meet 50ppm max, in line with the African Refineries Association (ARA) -AFRI4 specification by July 1, 2017. Already, neighbouring countries like Ghana, which also signified interest in reversing the trend, has since raised its standards and begun importation of cleaner products.

In late 2016, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire agreed to ban importation of Europe’s dirty fuel, limiting sulphur from 3,000 parts per millions to 50ppm. But almost a year after, Nigeria has continued to import the commodity to the detriment of its consumers, despite the release of new guidelines on petroleum products by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON).

SON said relevant stakeholders were to update their NIS collection by contacting the organisation’s library and documentation centres in Abuja, Lagos and all nearest state offices, to ensure they use the current and correct editions for their products and services. Bola Fashina, head of SON’s public relations, however said that although the agency had set new standards, it would be a while before enforcement commenced.