The government of Botswana has through the Ozone office in the Department of Meteorological Services trained 200 people from law enforcing agencies including the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS).The training is part of the capacity building for handling of refrigerants which are being phased out and replaced by less ozone depleting ones. Some of the refrigerants being phased out are those marked R134a-inscrited in cylinders placed at the back bottom of refrigerators.
The interim chairman of the Botswana Refrigeration and Air Condition Association (BRACA), Mompati Maseko and his two ex-officio members-Frizon Moyo and Chombe Tsholofelo highlighted in an interview that; “The R134 series happens to be one of the Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) that are being phased out because they have impact in the ozone layer (ozone is a region of Earth’s stratosphere that absorbs most of the Sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation).
Other such refrigerants include the R22. Countries all over the world have agreed through the Montreal Protocol of 1987 and later, the Kigali amendment of 2016 that step by step they should phase out these gases for the protection of all life under the sun.”The association has been formed to work with the National Ozone Office in the phasing out and monitoring general utilization of refrigerants to ensure Botswana abides by international agreements. The two ex-officio members of BRACA have been nominated especially to support the association in this aspect of training. The refrigerants that have already been phased out are the Chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs).
“Our intention is to train all stakeholders to be cognizant of the fact that there have been shift in the refrigerants. This therefore calls for training on how to handle them. Some of them are flammable. So training should be done. To the general public we advise that they should seek repair services from professional technicians-licensed companies- instead of informal technicians. To the informal technicians our advice is that they should wait patiently for the training,” said Tsholofelo.
He added that he was aware that informal technicians are cheaper. While a company would charge around P600, the informal ones charge around half that price.A major barrier in the prevention of trafficking of illegal refrigerants is the lack of the necessary equipment. This has been imported and for as long as it is not in use illegal gadgets will only be confiscated without culprits being tried in the court of law.
Although the law enforcement officers have confiscated a lot of gadgets, Tsholofelo said such that BACRA is seeking funds to build a proper storage to store them, no one has been prosecuted for any illegal importation.
Maseko highlighted that they are working with the Ozone Office to control the importation of refrigerants, almost all of which are from South Africa.“For the supply of gases business people or their agents should get quota from the Department of Meteorological Services. Records are kept there,” said Maseko. This helps them to manage the number of refrigerants that are being phased out which are in stock currently before the importation of the acceptable ones like; R290, R600a, R717 (Ammonia).