Minister challenges NEMC, ZEMA on environmental pollution

DEPUTY Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office (Union and Environment), Khamis Hamza Khamis has directed National Environment Management Council (NEMC) and Zanzibar Environmental Management Authority (ZEMA) to step up efforts in dealing with increasing industrial pollution.

He said in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday that the two environmental management authorities should enforce environment laws, regulations and guidelines to deal with industries which cause noise pollution and dispense toxic waste into the air, water or land.

“Let’s go to effectively manage the laws, regulations and guidelines in environment management. There are industries which dispense toxic waste. There are industries which disturb people with noise,” said the deputy minister at a policy dialogue on air quality management in Tanzania organised by Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and Uongozi Institute in Dar es Salaam.

The deputy minister said NEMC and ZEMA should deal with air pollution from industrial emissions noting that some factories were emitting toxic substances into the air because they lack proper chimneys.

Environmental experts who presented research findings on air quality management in Dar es Salaam said over the past five years, the city has made substantial progress in improving air quality, but still experiences poor air quality and faces challenges in describing levels of pollution in the city.

The deputy minister directed the two environmental management authorities to step up efforts in forest conservation by controlling deforestation, promoting sustainable land management and reforestation.

There are concerns about growing problem of forest fires due to age-old traditional practices and socio-economic activities, he said and directed the NEMC and ZEMA to increase efforts in dealing with the problem.

Mr Khamis said studies show over 80 per cent environment pollution are caused by human activities and therefore the two environment management authorities need to initiate education programmes for environmental awareness and behaviour to help the public become aware of the impacts on the environment created by human activities.

Scholars say burning fossil fuels, responsible for about 80 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change, is a key driver of outdoor air pollution.

NEMC Director for Environmental Research and Management, Dr Menan Jengo said Dar es Salaam as the largest city in Tanzania with the highest population in the country contribute the most in air pollution due industrial activities and mobile emissions from vehicles.

Dr Jengo said the policy dialogue on air quality management would provide opportunity for the council to listen and receive directives from government authorities.

ZEMA Director General, Sheha Juma said risks for environmental pollution were gradually growing as economic activities were increasing in Zanzibar.

He said environmental pollution is increasing gradually as Zanzibar is witnessing an increase in different kinds of pollutants including hazardous substances, micro plastics, nutrients from urban and hotel areas around the main Island of Unguja.

According to a research report titled Pollution management in Zanzibar: the need for a new approach published in Science Journal, coastal pollution is increasingly becoming a source of concern in Zanzibar.

Untreated municipal wastewater discharged into coastal waters and in some places directly onto coastal habitats, such as mangroves, is having serious impacts on the natural environment and potentially on the economic base that many of the islanders depend.

Pollution emanating from municipal sources has also been directly linked to frequent outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea and gastroenteritis, especially during the rainy seasons.

Sewage pollution is also threatening the burgeoning tourism trade that is increasingly playing an important role in the development of the island.

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