AS the country inches to 1st June deadline ban of plastic bags, the government said yesterday it does not expect any excessive force or harassment in the public by any authority that would be charged with the task of ensuring that the ban is observed.
Addressing Dar es Salaam Region government functionaries in the city yesterday, Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office (Union and Environment) January Makamba, said the implementation of the ban is based on regulations made under the Environment Management Act 2004, which outlaw use or carrying of such a plastic bag, and further stipulates type of punishments for an offender.
“The government does not anticipate use of excessive force or chaotic occurrences in implementing this ban. Essentially culprits will be fined.
For example, a person carrying a banned bag will be fined 30,000/- or jailed for seven days or both.
Do not search people’s suitcases or houses in search of banned bags,” he directed, adding that chaos could mar the government’s good intention on the issue.
The Minister further said that Tanzania is not the first country to outlaw such bags, but some 60 countries have reinforced it.
However, he appealed to the citizens to be positive on the ban, saying it will come with alternative business opportunities for millions of Tanzanians.
“Many jobs will be created…. from those employed in factories to retailers selling the alternative carriers,” he added. In a related development, Mr Makamba cautioned the public from politicizing the issue, adding that it is now over 30 years after independence, when the plastic bags have been in use in the country.
Commenting on the ban, the Deputy Minister of State in the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government), Mr Mwita Waitara, assured the public that the government has put in place plans to ensure order is observed in implementing it.
“We shall use Primary and Secondary Schools to send the right message to the people. Where there are congregations, we shall ask authorities to use the meetings to educate people on the ban,” he added.
On his side, the Director General of the National Environment Management Council (NEMC), Dr Samuel Gwamaka said the Council will use its Zonal Offices to ensure smooth implementation of the ban was observed.
He said the Council will cooperate with regions to pick disposal areas, where the bags that would be in the hands of people after the deadline would be deposited, saying: “Any stakeholders interested in further explanation should visit NEMC Offices.”
However, Dar es Salaam Regional Administrative Secretary (RAS) Abubakar Kunenge said the region was using billboards and Radio to send right messages to the public on the banned carriers.
He also said the Regional Commission plans to hold a public meeting to explain to the people the importance and advantages of the ban to them.