A three-day training on the detection, control and management of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) for customs, police, immigration, NIA, National Drug Enforcement Agency, and other security enforcement agents has recently ended in Farafenni.
Speaking at the occasion, Momodou B. Kanteh, the director of Technical Service Network (TSN) at the National Environment Agency, said The Gambia government in showing her firm commitment to phase out the consumption and production of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) by 2010, has ratified both the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol. According to him, the ozone layer is the primary protection of the earth from the harmful rays of the sun; that the Ultra-Violet Radiation from the sun has adverse effects on human and animal health, marine and terrestrial eco-systems and can cause diseases such as skin cancer, eye cataract, and the destruction of the immune system.
Kanteh however disclosed that the continuous emission of Chlorofluorocarbons, Halons, Methyl Bromide and Chloroforms will deplete the ozone layer and that this will result to more severe environmental and health problems. He said upon recognising the vulnerability of human beings, flora and fauna to ODS, the NEA and the government of The Gambia have over the years taken giants steps towards the reduction and ultimate elimination of ODS through a number of measures.
At the end of the training, he said, participants are expected to clearly understand what ozone and ozone depletion are all about and the reason they must join the rest of the world to protect the ozone layer by phasing out CFCs. For his part, Sainey Ceesay, a senior customs officer at Farafenni, called on his colleagues in the security service to lead the fight against the smuggling and illegal entry of these depleting substances into country. He noted that the aim of the training is to strengthen the capacity of enforcement agents to enhance proper identification and detection of ODS at the points of entry and/or during circulation.
Samba Badjie and Alhagie Sarr, ODS programme officers at the National Environment Agency, told the participants that the government of The Gambia is committed to phase out the consumption of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) leading to her ratification of the Vienna Convention for the protection of the ozone layer in May 1990 and the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer in June 1990.
They said The Gambia has also ratified the Copenhagen and London Amendments to the Montreal Protocol in 1992 and 1995 respectively. The programme officers therefore urged participants to take the training seriously and disseminate the knowledge gained among their colleagues.
Also speaking was Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang, NEA's environmental education officer. He said nature is at conflict with mankind. He therefore appealed to participants to use environmentally friendly activities and devices to make the planet earth not only a suitable but also a lasting home for generations not yet born.
Fafanding Kinteh, regional environment officer in North Bank Region and Abdou Jeng, GRA's environment focal point, all expressed similar sentiments. The three-day training which attracted over 25 participants drawn from the North Bank Region is among series of its kind conducted and organised by the NEA for security officers and refrigeration technicians throughout the country.