By Guest Writer
OPINION: Nearly a trillion single plastic bags are used each year and 2 million each minute globally. In reference to the daily monitor, an article published on the 3rd of September 2022 titled ‘’Make Formal Education More Practical’’ clearly stated that proper disposal of plastic bags has remained a challenge to Uganda.
The government has been one of the countries announcing bans of plastic bags over the last 12 years but none has been implemented.
Statistics from the taxman confirms that Uganda annually imports around 8.7million tonnes of plastics in different forms, some for further manufacture and others as finished products. Further, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), indicates that 660,000 of the carrier or plastic bags end up as wastes every day.
According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the plastic bags and plastic bottles take up to 1,000 years to decompose once they are littered causing plastic pollution, water pollution and air pollution once burnt.
Additionally, the soils also become infertile since the rainwater cannot be penetrated in the soil leading to low food production that later results into food crisis as it is happening in Karamoja region. Important to note, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) spends about 10 billion shillings annually unblocking the drainage system of debris that sometimes contain plastic bags.
The National Environment Act, 2019, under section 76(1) prohibits the importation, exportation, local manufacture, use of plastic carrier bags made of polyethene below thirty microns.
It is, therefore, important for Uganda as a country to stick to the law and train its citizens to be compliant and this need to be accompanied with stiff punishments for whoever negates with the law.
We have failed to protect our country from the dangers of plastics because of failure to agree on the policy.
We can borrow a leaf from our neighbors like Rwanda. Its strictness has attracted widespread praise for its environmental leadership and earned it popularity for being one of the cleanest cities in Africa and globally.
I urge the line Ministries, agencies and stakeholders to intensify debates on policies to ban the use of plastic bags or pay more emphasis on the 4R’s (reuse, recycle, reduce and recover).
Secondly, the government should put a total ban on industries that produce plastic bags (buveera) if progress is to be registered. Hesitance starts with the manufacturing companies that are found of persuading the government officials not to close their companies claiming to be employing many people not counting on people’s lives that are being put on danger.
Last but not least, the government should enhance campaigns to educate people on the dangers associated with using plastic bags and bottles.
The youths should be championing these campaigns in schools and communities since they are young, energetic and not more engaged with responsibilities.
The writer is Hildah Nsimiire, a research fellow at Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies (GLISS).
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