KAMPALA — Under new measures, anyone using plastic bags in Uganda can be slapped with a fine, and those caught manufacturing the items can get jail time.
Environmentalists are celebrating the move
State Minister for Environment Beatrice Anywar told PML Daily that authorities had resolved to implement a ban on plastic bags and that travellers should take an immediate note.
It follows similar steps by others in the region, including Kenya and Rwanda, to phase out non-biodegradable plastics.
The ban applies to the production, importation, sale and use of all single-use plastic bags.
The government has also warned tourists to “surrender” any plastic bags before entering the country, which is home to popular attractions such as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Murchison Falls National Park among others.
“Visitors or tourists to Uganda are advised to avoid carrying plastic carrier bags or packing plastic carrier bags or items in plastic carrier bags in the suitcase or hand luggage before embarking on visit to Uganda,” the minister said.
She said that her ministry is closely working with Entebbe International Airport to ensure that the ban on plastics is enforced.
“Special desk will be designed at all entry points for surrender of plastic carrier bags that visitors may be bringing into our country”
The minister warned manufacturers against frustrating and that “this is not something we are going to negotiate about any further.”
“We made this effort as a country to ban the Polyethene bags in Uganda. Today, we are reloaded, effective from today as you listen to me,
Kaveera is banned.”
“We have talked this over and over and it is not something that we need to negotiate about any further.”
“You are aware that in the East African region, it is only Uganda which has become a dumping ground for polyethene. Rwanda, no go area, Kenya and Tanzania, no go area, today, Uganda, we must take a stand that we are not going to remain a dumping ground for Kaveera.”
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) welcomed the ban, calling plastic “a silent killer of our natural environment.”
“This is because it takes more than 100 years for a single plastic bag to decay,” WWF Uganda director David Duli said. “We are happy that join the rest of countries in the region.
Mr. Duli called on the general public to join efforts to beat plastic pollution in their communities to protect the environment, which is increasingly being endangered by plastic items.
Mr. Duli called for a change of practice as his organization spearheads a massive campaign dubbed plastic-free conferences and workshops, a development he says will not only reduce plastic consumption but will also influence the way manufacturers package their products.
The impacts of plastic waste are both direct and indirect and they include climatic change as the major impact on the environment, the biomass and fossil fuels that cause air pollution have also caused the earth’s atmosphere warming resulting from the release of greenhouse gasses, health impacts, and damage of the wetland ecosystem.