Government Reinforces Commitment for Environmental Protection

While addressing the Paris Climate Change Summit in 2015, President Paul Biya reaffirmed Cameroon’s engagement to reduce Greenhouse emissions by 32 per cent by 2035 as the country embarks on its development process. The recent actions of the Ministry of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development to sanctions some 395 companies for violating environmental laws only comes to reinforce government’s commitment.

Shawn-Nathan EPANG

In line with President Paul Biya’s commitment to environmental protection and the reduction of Greenhouse emissions to 32 per cent, the Ministry of the Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development has taken sanctions against some 395 companies in Cameroon that are violating environmental norms in their operations. Following President’s Paul Biya’s participation at COP 21 Summit on Climate Change that held in 2015 in Paris, President Paul Biya in his address stated Cameroon’s readiness to environmental protection in a bid to curb climatic change and its hazardous effects. Cameroon was one of the few nations that ratified the COP 21 Paris Climate Change Agreement shortly after the summit.

Thus, the actions of the Ministry of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development to sanction some 395 companies for violating of environmental laws and pollution is practical measures the government is taking to keep its commitment taken at the highest level to safeguard the environment. The list of companies made public on August 8, 2018 contains fines ranging from FCFA 1 million to FCFA 50 million, levied in accordance with the 1996 law on environmental management. The fine of FCFA 50 million was levied on Societé Camerounaise de Transport et D’entreprise Maritime, a Douala-based company faulted for illegally importing hazardous waste into Cameroon.

A majority of the companies sanctioned according to findings of an inspection study carried out in 2015, were shops, bakeries, pharmacies, drycleaners and enterprises fabricating, using and distributing non-biodegradable plastics. Most penalties in this category range from FCFA 1 million to FCFA 2 million, with a few of them amounting to FCFA 15 million.

Companies dealing in hydrocarbons and public works as well as product manufacturing such as Buns, Green Oil, Petrolex, Tradex, SOCAEPE, Cameroon Tea Estate, International Soap Factory, were equally fined heavy sums for failure to conduct environmental impact assessments before setting up structures and non-respect of environmental protection laws in the daily running of their businesses. Some institutions such as health care providers and slaughterhouses were equally fined for unlawful waste disposal.

In recent years, government has embarked on several sensitisation campaigns to protect the environment, especially from dangers caused by the use and disposal of plastic waste which constitute 10 per cent of the six million tons of plastic waste disposed nationwide every year.

During the commemoration of this year’s edition of the World Environment Day, the Minister of Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development, Hele Pierre reiterated government’s resolve to end the use of non-biodegradable plastics. He also said people circulating and encouraging the use of such plastics will be hunted down, noting that inspections are being carried out while customs officers are also preventing the importation of such plastics.

The recent sanctions testify that government has graduated to repression after many years in the sensitisation stage.

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