|Work of art depicting an oil spill/courtesy of Bush Dwellers|
The Gambia is preparing for an unpredicted oil disaster as the National Disaster Management Agency, NDMA, on July 3, 2012 kick-started a four-day “National Oil Spill Contingency Plan Simulation Exercise.”
The exercise, ending today, is being held in collaboration with Global Initiative for West-and Central Africa (GI-WACAF), and International Petroleum Industry Environment Conservation Association (IPIECA).
It attracted various sectors in the preservation of human and ecological environment, marine and petroleum industries. The organisers, NDMA, said the exercise is meant to building the capacity of the participants on the impact and challenges of oil spill, and to prepare and come up with a solid and efficient national oil spill contingency plan.
“It is important to be fully cognizant of existing international standards and practices in dealing with maritime safety and marine pollution prevention,” reckons Gambia’s Petroleum Minister Mrs. Teneng Mba Jaiteh, who was speaking at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.
Last year, the Government through the efforts of the NDMA and partners developed “The Gambia Multi-Hazard National Contingency Plan” in which “oil spill” as a major hazard is clearly incorporated.
According to the minister, this plan was validated and subsequently endorsed by government in July 2011 and will remain effective until March 2013 when it will be reviewed and updated to be in tune with prevailing international standards.
The Plan identifies key stakeholders in disaster response and disaster risk reduction, maps out roles and responsibilities in emergency preparedness and response, standard operating procedures for emergency response, scenarios, triggers and early warning indicators, possible impacts as well as response and preparedness actions plans, Mrs. Jaiteh added.
She said the government is aware of the need to shift away from crises management to risk reduction and management, saying the contingency plan and its specifics are a clear indication and demonstration of government’s collective will and resolved to anticipate and effectively respond to any emergency and disaster related to oil spill in the Gambia.
|Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill 2010/AP/Huffington Post|
“In as much as we are preparing for potential oil spill emergencies at the national level, we have to recognised that oil spills particularly in the marine environment can have cross border implications,” she warned.
However, she said in the case of an oil spill, major private sector operators are required to provide adequate support to the NDMA in terms of information, logistics and funds where necessary.
The lead Consultant for IMO-IPIECA and GIWACAF assigned to develop this contingency plan for Gambia, Mr. John Ostergaard, said the development of an oil spill contingency plan has been under consideration for several years.
He said the process is complex, and needs constant scrutiny. The National Plan is a living document that needs constant updating in order to be in compliance with national and international developments.
“The national legislation should provide the legal background for the implementation of the number of international conventions related to oil spill preparedness, response and co-operation,” Mr. Ostergaard said. “The purpose of the national oil spill contingency planning is to establish a framework for co-operation between the various authorities involved in the response to an oil spill and between the authorities and the private sectors.”
The Gambia is a party to the Convention for Co-operation in the Protection and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the West and Central Africa and its protocol concerning cooperation in combating pollution in cases of emergency.
Source: The Voice