Environment Protection Agency sets Committee to help phase-out Hydro Chlorofluorocarbon in Sierra Leone

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya::::

The Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone in its continuous stride in ensuring the people of Sierra Leone get a safer environment has last week formed a committee that will help greatly on the phase-out of the hydro- Chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) gases in the country.  The Hydro Chlorofluorocarbon phase-out management plan for Sierra Leone was launched at on the British Council Hall on the12th June 2012 by the Ozone Department of the EPA-SL. The newly formed committee is composed of members of the EPA-SL, the National Revenue Authority, the Sierra Leone Police, the Sierra Leone Ports Authority, the Immigration Department, the Republic of Sierra Leone Army and other key stakeholders.


Sierra Leone is a signatory to the 1991 Montreal Protocol which prohibits the use of ozone depleting substances. Since its signature, the country has carried out many activities that will frustrate this business in the country by formulating regulations and massive campaign to the Sierra Leonean populace. Up to this time HCFC gases are used in motor vehicles, air conditioners, refrigerators and other equipments that use cooling gases in the country. By statutory instrument dated 18th November 2010, it states that “with effect from the 1st day of April 2011, no person shall import a motor vehicle that has an automotive air conditioning or refrigeration unit containing any controlled substance” and in the case where someone import it into the country, he/she shall pay to the Agency within 30 days of the importation of fee to be determined by the Board for the removal and destruction of the automotive air conditioning or refrigeration unit.

In his statement on behalf of the Board and the Executive Chairperson of the Environment Protection Agency, the Deputy Assistant Director at the EPA-SL, Mr. Momodu A Bah, said that on the 29th August 2001 the republic of Sierra Leone became a party to the Vienna Convention for the protection of the ozone layer and to the Montreal Protocol in substances that deplete the ozone layer which led to the establishment of the National Ozone Unit in Sierra Leone in charge of facilitating and coordinating the adherence of the country to her commitment as spelt out by the convention and protocol for the preservation of the ozone layer.

Mr. Bah indicated that HCFCs are mainly used in Sierra Leone as refrigerants for air conditioners and industrial and commercial refrigeration as well as a blowing agent for foam and serve as solvent. He further reechoed that under the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer, all parties must gradually reduce and eventually phase-out their production, marketing and consumption of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) including HCFCs.

The EPA-SL Assistant Deputy Director reiterated that the implementation of environmental policies, programs and projects in Sierra Leone should involve an array of stakeholders at all levels and different sectors, adding that there is the need to establish an effective coordinating and collaboration mechanism for the Agency to achieve the objectives of the phase-out management plan. He said that the success of the implementation of the Hydro Chlorofluorocarbon Phase-out Management Plan (HCMP) under the Vienna Convention on the protection of the ozone layer and the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer in Sierra Leone will be dependent on the partnership and collaboration between the Agency and key stakeholders that are present for the formation of the committee, adding that this can be achieved through technological transfer, awareness raising and enforcement of the various legislation on Ozone Depleting substances.

Giving a brief account of what the agency has done towards the Montreal Protocol, Mr. Bah reflected the National Ozone Unit of the agency has trained over 300 custom officers, law enforcement officers, and technicians in the field of refrigeration while also supplying them with identifiers that can test for ozone depleting substances which they believe could be replicated for the effective implementation of the HPMP. He however noted that the meeting is a fundamental step in building a lasting partnership between the agency and the various MDAs to begin the full implementation of the HPMP and the various ozone legislations on substances that deplete the ozone layer.



The National Ozone Officer at the EPA-SL, Victor H.O Sawyerr said there is no doubt that HFC is affecting Sierra Leone, noting that in some places the temperature keeps warming. Explaining further, Mr. Sawyerr said that the ultraviolet rays will impact on the sun’s layer and thereby cause a big problem for people on planet earth. He said if the sun keeps warming it will affect the health situation of human beings and also cause eyes problem.

The National Ozone Officer said that there are many HCFC gases in the shops across the country and he urged the committee members to act tough and be proactive in reporting about these substances in order to help minimize the use of HCFC substances in the country. Mr. Sawyerr stated that Sierra Leone have benefited greatly towards phasing out the ODS in the country but adds that the country will not continue to benefit while doing nothing to ensure HCFC are totally removed out of the country.

Sulaiman Uniss Bangura from the Custom Department of the National Revenue Authority said that there are many issues that need to be addressed in the country which should have high political attention and forming a committee to ensure HCFC are out of the country is a step in the right direction. He said that the EPA-SL have done a lots in training their members on the HCFCs in Sierra Leone, adding that as an office under the direct supervision of the Office of the President, the agency should use the office in order to be able to lobby and implement many environmental policies like the Montreal protocol.

Although the EPA-SL have done greatly in training border and law enforcement officers in the country, a representative of the SLP, Mr. Sylvester M.N Koroma said in other for HCFC to be phased out properly out of Sierra Leone, the Sierra Leone Police must be properly trained and equipped on the process so that they will be able to nab the importers and sellers of the HCFCs



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