Oil spill: NOSDRA seeks powers to punish oil companies

Bonga-oil-spill06 November 2013, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – Chairman of National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Mr. Lancelot Anyanya has said that the agency’s inability to sanction oil and gas companies over incidences of oil spill has impeded efforts to reduce the phenomenon, even as he urged the National Assembly to ensure that on-going amendment of the Act establishing the agency gives it the power to enforce fines and penalties imposed on oil companies for oil spills.

Anyanya who spoke to newsmen in Abuja at a press briefing noted that NOSDRA presently does not have the legal backing to take tougher actions against international oil companies which pollute the environment.

He noted that, “In most regulatory environment some of the strongest ways to enforce compliance are fines and penalties. I do not think that the current Act provides much for that. The truth about it is that you can create an Act but if there is no punishment created then what is the disincentive for creating that offence.”

The NOSDRA chairman observed that the aim of the current amendment bill is to put those things into the Act proper “so that we do not have a situation where the culprit company is saying well there is no specific law saying that NOSDRA can punish a company.”

According to him, “I do know that the main thrust (of the amendment) is to address the glaring inadequacies of the present Act in which NOSDRA in some respect have responsibility authority is perhaps is far not reaching enough to comply compliance.

“The good thing about fines and penalties is that, we see what happened in the United States of America, fines and penalties are imposed in billions of dollars. You have to think in terms of how much you can pay for the health hazard. And that is an environment where the response is quick.”

On its own part, he added, NOSDRA is “wrapping up our capacity to respond. So much progress has been made since 2006, there is so much to be done, because we have a difficult terrain and the cost of procurement of the assets and is so huge.”.

While calling for more funding for the agency, Anyanya explained that it was impossible for NOSDRA to do its work properly when the needed funds are not made available.

He said it is urgent the agency vacated its present office location to provide the conducive environment and data security of the agency’s operation.

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