Ministers Awori, Mutagamba clash in Parliament
“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.