Environmental police unit a welcome move

Environmental police unit a welcome move


The environmental police unit will inspect farms, mining sites, textile mills, garages and factories, among other responsibilities.  It would be able to arrest, investigate and take necessary legal action against individuals and institutions implicated in practices that will harm the environment.

NEMC officials revealed the plans to the Vice-President, Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal, who visited the institution on Monday.

NEMC is one of the institutions under the VP's office. The establishment of a unit for policing the country's environmental health was conceived some two years ago and culminated into signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NEMC and the Police Force. The move is highly welcome since such a unit was long overdue. Environmental challenges are on the rise and collective efforts are needed to rectify the situation.

But while the environmental police will help in dealing with offenders, the government must also put in place the right infrastructure to facilitate compliance to environmental law and rules. While it is proper to punish people who recklessly throw garbage, city authorities are supposed to put in place dump sites. On Monday, Dr Bilal rightly described the state of environment in the country as "pathetic", citing a few cases, including pollution of the beaches, rivers, lakes and the sea.

According to experts, deforestation and environmental degradation are now among the serious problems that threaten the country's social and economic sustainability. Tanzania loses thousands of hectares of forests annually due to illegal timber business and production of charcoal. Deforested areas, as a result, no longer provide a home for wildlife - leading to biodiversity loss; and are also susceptible to soil erosion. Another problem is overgrazing. Having bigger livestock numbers may be good for farmers.

But when their numbers exceed the area’s natural carrying capacity, it turns out to be a disadvantage. In towns and cities, solid and liquid wastes are left untreated. As a result, air and water are contaminated with pollutants, a health hazard for those who live in under-privileged areas.  In Dar es Salaam, some studies say hardly five per cent of the population is connected to a sewage system. Worse still, waste is discharged raw into the Indian Ocean. Let us work together to end these problems.

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Author: EDITOR

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