By: Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang

The Governor of the North Bank Region (NBR), has tasked regional refrigeration and air condition technicians to live up to expectation, in the execution of their duties as stakeholders in the fight against the consumption and emission of controlled refrigerants like hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which does not only deplete the Ozone layer, but contribute to the warming of the earth.

Governor Ebrima Dampha made these remarks at the opening of a four day training workshop on Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS), flammability and safety, which took place in Farafenni, in the NBR. He challenged participants to exercise professionalism as any little mistake will cost both human health as well as the environment. 

This training he said is important and timely, because environmental issues are currently on top of the global agenda, and that when the holy month of Ramadan approaches, their services will be urgently needed.

He cautioned both users and technicians to avoid using refrigerants that have ozone depletion potentials; that such refrigerants are used in our offices, fish processing factories, homes, etc. ‘‘I hope by the end of day, you will be equipped to control the types of refrigerants you use during servicing of refrigerators and air conditioners.

On his part, the Director of Administration and Finance Muhammed Denton, told participants that the training workshop has come at a time when the refrigeration and air conditioning subsector is experiencing lots of transformation in terms of technology, and the introduction of new refrigerants in a bid to replace the ones that are not only Ozone Depleting Substances, but are potent greenhouse gases that contribute to the warming of the earth.

He buttressed that it is important to note that gases like Hydro Chloro Fluoro Carbons (HCFCs), and Hydro Fluoro Carbons (CFCs) used mainly in our air conditioning systems and fish processing factories, do not only deplete the Ozone layer but contribute to global warming, the consequences of which we are currently experiencing in the form of heavy winds, heat waves, extreme cold seasons as in Europe and other parts of the world, sea level rise resulting to coastal erosion and inundation to name but a few.

“All of us here present have a role to play in reducing the production and consumption of such refrigerants that is threatening our survival and existence on earth. As technicians and major stake holders in the servicing sector, we should encourage end users to convert to Ozone friendly refrigerants like 290, which is now available in our markets and can be used in our air conditioning systems,” Denton said; that importers of such commodities need to y import other alternatives in order to gradually phase out the said refrigerants; that this will ensure our compliance to the Montreal protocol obligations on substances that deplete the Ozone Layer and contribute to the warming of the earth.

As parties to Article Five of the protocol, Denton disclosed that we should adjust to compliance requirements of international agreements like the Vienna and Montreal protocols on substances that deplete the Ozone Layer, and we therefore have to be committed in ensuring that new technologies are adopted for a cleaner environment.

“This is a challenge all of us have to face. With some political support from Government and donor partners like the United Nations Environment Program, United Nations Industrial Development Organization and Global Environment Facility, we are assured of compliance as Article Five countries,” NEA’s Director of Administration revealed.

He cautioned participants that some of the alternative refrigerants going to be discussed during the training are flammables, making the training and the ones to come to concentrate more on safety and handling. He concluded by thanking the United Nations Industrial Development Organization for providing them with funds to conduct the training workshop and many more to come.

Alhagie Sarr, Co-cordinator of the project disclosed that the training workshop is one of six that is approved by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); that the introduction of new refrigerants already in the Gambia, needs technical knowledge on how to handle them, due to their flammability even though they are Ozone and climate friendly, and energy efficient compared to HCFCs. During the four day training, Sarr said discussions will be on retrofitting, safety measures to avoid accidents, placement of working equipment, lack of emergency exit, and lack of fire extinguishers; that the Gambia like other Article Five parties, is committed to the obligations of the Montreal protocol in phasing out HCFCs until 2030, a major refrigerant currently used in both domestic and industrial refrigeration. This is a major challenge considering the time.

Once phased out, Sarr warned that we need to be vigilant to ensure that they are not re-introduced into the service sector in the form of blends, or disguised with labels that are Ozone and climate friendly; that it is important to note that refrigerants like HFCs used mainly in our fish processing factories, warms the earth.

He concluded by appealing to the participating technicians for support, by working together with the authorities to preserve and protect the Ozone Layer and regulate the consumption of refrigerants that contribute to the warming of our planet.

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