Ministers Awori, Mutagamba clash in Parliament

A ban on importing plastic packaging bags as well as used computers and refrigerators to protect the environment hangs in the balance after two cabinet ministers clashed in Parliament yesterday. Information Communication and Technology minister Aggrey Awori told the parliamentary committee on Finance that the environmental impact of the bags, commonly known as ‘buveera’, and the used electronics, far outweighed the economic cost of banning them.

“Country comes first and other interests later,” Mr Awori said. “The ban is on.”
However Water and Environment minister Maria Mutagamba argued that it was more realistic to find ways of managing the disposal of the polythene bags which are notorious for clogging drainage channels and causing flooding, especially in built-up areas.

“In 2007 we banned the production and importation of the [bags] that are 30microns and below but it did not work,” Ms Mutagamba said. She argued that banning of the importation and manufacture of all polythene bags would force industries to close and cause unemployment.

Finance Minister Syda Bbumba announced the ban earlier this year during the budget speech, following the example of Rwanda which banned polythene bags a couple of years ago. Efforts to implement the ban are now running into opposition from manufacturers, importers and traders who use the cheap plastic bags to customers to carry their purchases.

The spokesman for the Kampala City Traders Association, Mr Isa Ssekitto, told the committee that Kenya and Tanzania have not banned the plastic bags and that this would lead to them being smuggled into the country.
“Plastic is the way to go in the modern economy and the best way to deal with the kaveera is through public, private partnership where everybody takes responsibility,” Mr Ssekkito said.

Committee members, spearheaded by Nandala Mafabi and Geoffrey Ekanya, backed the ban but committee chairperson Gaudisio Tinkamanyire called for a compromise. The committee said it would make a decision after one week.

http://www.monitor.co.ug/artman/publish/news/Ministers_Awori_Mutagamba_c...

0

Hi Walude,

It's interesting to know there are people in your region who see the other side of the picture related to banning of plastic bags.

This opposition might create alternate solutions which could benefit society at large.

Vijai

0

Hi Walude,

If someone has not been to the slums and rural areas of this country to see the degredation of our environment because of buveera and the long term effect, he would oppose the ban.
--
Gertrude Benderana
kabebura@gmail.com
+256-772323325
Http//:wwwafricantrudy.blogspot.com

0

Hi Vijai,

The Uganda Manufacturers Association (Plastics Industry) more than anybody else have been aggaressive in opposing the ban. We participated in the waste clean-up launch at Natete in Kampala last week but the main purpose was to pass out the message to Government that the ban of plastics was not the solution, rather more resources ought to be invested to promote environmentally sound waste management practices. The truth is that very little resources have been invested in this area in the past and everybody is now waking-up.

It looks like the Minister has got hooked by the Association to accept lifting the ban. There is need to cean-up of the waste backlog in the entire country and this will require massive resources for investment in public education.

The Uganda Manufacturers Association know they dont have the resources to do it alone so they are trying to set up demonstration project sites within Kampala city by the end of the year. They have established a waste recyling factory and are aiming to recover all plastics at a fee!!! This process started off officially in Nateete yesterday. However, they dont seem to have a solution for the other type of waste (i.e. the wet waste) and for changing the attitudes and practices of the public in waste management.

I personally think the ban should be lifted but after there is policy on recovery of plastics from the environment. The government should establish a waste management and recycling fund and use it to promote programs related to waste management, reduction, reuse, recycling, monitoring and measurement of waste. This will move the country towards the Zero Waste principle

Cheers
--
Walude

0

Dear Gertrude,

It is true that plastics have been a major contributor to spoiling the beauty of the environment in slums and rural areas and this is likely to continue unless action is taken.

I would like to see government take on a more active role in investing resources towards waste management and determining clear indicators of progress just like targets have been set for safe water and sanitation. There are no such targets in waste management or if they exist I havent seen them.

Once this is done, then other stakeholders including the manufactuers should support the attainment of the targets.

--
Walude

0

Hi Walude,

As a demonstration of the Corporate Social Responsibility among the manufacturers of plastics in your region, perhaps a dialogue could be initiated through your efforts to make these manufacturers more responsible for cleaning up the environment. The association of these manufacturers could evolve programs where a small percentage of their revenues are routed to such zero-waste programs. Once positive results are achieved through this route, and the environment looks clean enough, a state of equilibrium can be achieved where these manufacturers carry on with their business and continue to provide employment and other benefits to society, and the society benefits through being able to use the benefits of plastics, and the environment stays clean, and it is a win-win situation for all concerned.

The need for imposing bans is a stark reminder that somewhere down the line a total breakdown of management has happened in the particular sphere of activity, and efforts need to be made to repair the management systems and ensure that things are ticking along well, instead of resorting to panic-driven responses like issuing ban orders, which must be the last resort after all else has failed.

Cheers

Vijai

0

Hi vijai,

You are spot-on regarding the approach to plastic waste management. The Government levies taxes on importation of plastics in the country but does not re-invest part of it in ensuring that the environment is not degaraded.

Therefore it is the responsibility of the Coorporates to demonstrate how this should be done and encourage government to scale this up in the entire country. From, my experience in attempting to fundraise from these coorporates involved in the plastic industry, most of them seem not ready to start investing in cleaning-up the environment yet.

However, the Uganda Manufacturers Association has already start a drive in this direction and hopefully, it will be sustained. The National Environmental Management Authority is drafting a waste management policy and hopefully, it will incorporate these concepts.

Once the policy is ready, we will test its feasibility in Bweyoegerere and seek for ways on advising government on its improvement.

Regards
--
Walude

0

Plastic bags are a disaster in any country, as we know they are (mostly) not bio degradable. If villages could recycle the bags and make them into mats, shoes, hats, carry bags and other household/fashion wear, the bags are being re cycled. I do not advocate using plastic at all, but it is better t recycle, than to have them litter the villages, drains and MOST often ingested by animals - cows in particular. These bags get stuck in the stomach or gullet and often die an awful death. But Plastic IS a problem and it is impossible to stop people using them. We have to pay for new plastic bags from our supermarkets in my country. This has NOT stopped the use of "cheap" plastic bags. I am afraid to say that our poorer population always want a new bag with their purchases, not understanding the effect it has on the environment. But some of our ladies have made fashion wear and done very well, keeping them busy and bringing in a small income.

0

Hi Martine,

Welcome to nabuur and to Bweyogerere. You are right when you say that it is difficult to eliminate the use of plastic bags in the community. There has to be a culture of recyling them instead and this is where we have failed. The very supermarkets who sell them could be targeted as agents of change. We need to borrow a leaf and i was wondering if you have any photographs of the women's work there in South Africa.

Then share these with us.
--
Walude

0