National Ozone Office trains customs officers on monitoring illegal entry of ODS
Harare (New Ziana) –The National Ozone Office will next month conduct two training workshops for customs officers to equip them with the knowledge and skills to combat illegal trade in substances that deplete the ozone layer and cause global warming.
The Ozone Layer is the region of the earth’s stratosphere that absorbs most of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation, preventing skin cancer, cataracts and impaired immune systems in humans.
It also protects plants as they cannot survive in heavy ultraviolet radiation, nor can the plankton that serve as food for most oceanic life.
George Chaumba, the Ozone Project manager in the Ministry f Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry told New Ziana that the first training will be conducted in Kadoma while the second will be held in Bulawayo.
“The training will focus on equipping customs officers with the knowledge and skills to combat illegal trade in substances that deplete the ozone layer and cause global warming,” he said.
Chaumba said although Zimbabwe does not produce ODSs, it imports the ones that it uses in refrigeration and air conditioning.
“Some people smuggle the substances, especially the banned ones, hence the need for customs officers to be vigilant,” he said.
Zimbabwe has made tremendous progress in phasing out ODSs as it no longer using these in the fire fighting, tobacco seedbed and grain storage sectors.
It is left with the refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) sectors and it is on course to completely phase these out before the stipulated 1st January 2023 deadline.
The United Nations General Assembly in 1987 adopted the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which sets binding obligations for developed and developing countries to phase out all major ozone depleting substances.
Major ODSs include hydrochloroflourocarbans (HCFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in refrigerators and air conditioners, halons in fire extinguishers and Methylbromide in agriculture.
In refrigeration and air conditioning, all CFCs have been phased out while about 50 percent of HCFCs have been phased out.
The RAC sector is adopting Hydrocarbons (HCs), which are ozone and climate friendly as well as HFCs, which are ozone friendly though with high global warming potentials and will also be phased out at a later stage.
In fire fighting, water, carbon dioxide and other ozone friendly substances are now being used in place of Halons, which have been completely phased out, while the floating tray technology, which is ozone friendly, has been adopted in tobacco seedbed preparation as an alternative for Methylbromide.
Aluminium Phosphide, which generates phosphine gas, which is ozone friendly, has been adopted also as an alternative to Methylbromide in grain storage.
Zimbabwe has received more than USD6 million from the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol since it was established in 1994 to assist developing countries meet their obligations to phase out the use of ODSs at the agreed schedule.
The funds have gone towards phasing out CFCs in refrigeration and air conditioning, HCFCs in refrigeration and air conditioning, manufacturing of ozone friendly refrigerators, assistance to Polytechnics, RAC technicians and ZIMRA for training of customs officers in controlling and monitoring ODS trade.
Last year, the Ozone Office conducted 10 training workshops in which it trained more than 320 refrigeration technicians on adopting hydrocarbon refrigerants which are ozone and climate friendly.
On June 26 this year, the Ozone Office joined refrigeration practitioners in the capital and Chegutu who were commemorating the World Refrigeration Day, whose theme was “Next Generation Cooling: The future is in our hands.”