BY ARNOLD LETSHOLO
The Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) and Ministry of Environment Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism (MENT) have partnered to fight illegal importation of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS).
The Ministry, through the Department of Meteorological Services (DMS) handed over, eight refrigerant identifiers to the BURS which will be used at ports of entry to test gases imported into the country in order to combat illegal trade of prohibited ODS which may be disguised as ozone friendly.
The purchasing of the gadgets is a step in the implementation of the requirements of the Montreal Protocol of 1987, that controls the production and consumption of ODS. Botswana became party to the protocol in 1992.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, the Deputy Permanent in the Ministry, Felix Monggae highlighted that Botswana has since 1992 participated in the implementation of the Montreal protocol and that ODS are gases used in refrigeration, air conditioners, fire extinguishers, pest controllers and aerosol applications.
“As a party to the protocol, Botswana has to do its part in assisting international community to save the ozone layer and ensure proper and effective regulation of these gases particularly their importation into Botswana,” said Monggae. He added that this objective cannot be achieved without the involvement of Customs officers.
It is for that reason he said, that the ministry continues to build their capacity to create understanding of international obligations, provide them with means of implementation as well as coordinate reporting with them. He in effort to show commitment to the international obligation and to create an enabling environment for implementation of the protocol, Botswana adopted ODS Regulations in 2014. The regulations in turn established licensing system covering both import and export of ODS to help monitor their quantities as they entered and left Botswana borders. Under the same regulations all traders of ODS are required to obtain an import permit from the DMS.
“This is one of the reasons we forged partnership with BURS and to date, about 90 percent of Customs officers have been trained countrywide on the identification of ODS at ports of entry. We took it upon ourselves to train them and not just leave it to them since it is their job to control movement of goods in and out of the country. This will go a long way in facilitating the legal entry and curb the illegal entry into the country of ODS,” he said.
DMS Acting Director, Balisi Gopolang underpinned that his department has engaged a team of experts to ensure the machines are professionally maintained. He said the department has not yet constructed a warehouse where confiscated items can be kept, but plans are underway.
Phodiso Valashia, Acting Commissioner General of BURS acknowledged the handing over of the machines by ascertaining that legislation is already in place for the utilization of the machines and they are to be utilized forthwith.
The refrigerant identifiers that cost around P301 000 are part of the Montreal protocol’s multilateral Fund. It is being implemented by United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP).