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A trader arranges his cloth bags for display at Kibuye market in Kisumu on August 27, 2017. Kenya and Rwanda have effected bans on plastic using national laws. [File photo: Ondari Ogega / NMG]
Authorities in Tanzania are gearing up to enforce a ban on single-use polythene bags in order to protect the environment.
The Office of the Vice President which is overseeing the enforcement of the ban, has said that come June 1, plastic carrier bags regardless of thickness will be prohibited from being imported, exported, manufacture, sold, stored or supplied for use in the country.
However, plastic or plastic packaging for medical services, industrial products, the construction industry, the agricultural sector, foodstuff, sanitary and waste management are exempt.
Effectively, the country has issued a travel advisory to foreign visitors to avoid carrying plastic bags before embarking on a visit to Tanzania, stating only Ziploc bags that are used to carry toiletries will be permitted.
“The government expects that, in appreciation of the imperative to protect the environment and keep our country clean and beautiful, our visitors will accept minor inconveniences resulting from the plastic bags ban,” said a statement from the Vice President’s Office.
Tanzania announced plans to ban plastics bags in April, joining Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan in phasing out the single-use non-biodegradable plastics that are a major cause of environmental pollution across the globe.
World Wildlife Fund country director Dr Amani Ngusaru termed the decision by Tanzania a historic conservation move.
“Plastic is a number one polluter of the environment and a silent killer of our natural environment. It takes more than a hundred years for a single plastic bag to decay,” he said.
Uganda is the only country in East Africa where plastic bags are still allowed despite President Yoweri Museveni signing into law the National Environment Management Bill, to strengthens the government’s hand in enforcing the ban on polythene.