Harare — ZIMBABWE will strive to totally phase out all ozone-depleting substances before the 2009 deadline set by the United Nations under the Montreal Protocol, the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Cde Francis Nhema, said yesterday.
At a Press briefing to commemorate the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, Cde Nhema said efforts were being made to phase out the use of chemicals such as methyl bromide, chloro-fluoro-carbons, carbon tetrachloride and methyl chloroform, which are mainly used in agriculture and refrigeration.
Cde Nhema said investment and demonstration projects had already been carried out in all sectors in which the substances are used.
"Over the past few years, imports of ozone-depleting substances have been gradually decreasing in conformity with the provisions of the Montreal Protocol. My ministry, therefore, realised the need to train refrigeration technicians in 'Good Refrigeration Practices'.
"To encourage recovery of refrigerants during servicing and repair of refrigeration equipment, my ministry distributed recovery machines and cylinders to refrigeration technicians countrywide. Through this practice, Zimbabwe will be able to achieve total phase-out of chloro-fluoro-carbons (CFCs) imports earlier than stipulated under the Montreal Protocol," said Cde Nhema.
The minister said the major challenge the country was facing in its efforts was to curb out illegal imports of the ozone-depleting substances.
He said his ministry had been involved in extensive training programmes for customs officers at major ports of entry.
"This training is aimed at controlling and monitoring illegal trade in ozone-depleting substances and equipping the customs officers with the skills and expertise to detect concealed, mislabelled or smuggled consignments of these controlled substances," he said.
The minister said there was need to introduce ozone protection as a subject in primary, secondary and tertiary education curricula so as to sustain the Montreal Protocol.
"If ozone protection is regularly taught in our learning institutions as part of science and health subjects, the pupils and students will become permanent messengers informing their parents and the community about the ozone protection issue," Cde Nhema said.
In this regard, the minister added, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) would soon provide an instructing aide for primary school teachers, known as the Ozone Action Education Pack, which would provide teachers with information and materials needed to incorporate ozone protection into school curricula.
In terms of the Montreal Protocol of September 16 1987, all countries should phase out the use of ozone-depleting chemicals by 2009.
Zimbabwe ratified the protocol in November 1992.