Under new measures, anyone using plastic bags in Tanzania can be slapped with a fine, and those caught manufacturing the items can get jail time. Environmentalists are celebrating the move. A ban on plastic bags came into force in Tanzania on Saturday as part of an effort to tackle pollution in the East African country.
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 Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti.
The Plastics Carrier Bags Regulations 2019 that prevent import, export, manufacturing, sale, storage, supply, and use of plastic carrier bags regardless of their thickness has taken effect in Tanzania Mainland today, June 1, 2019.
The regulations published under the Government Notice No. 394 of 2019 on May 17, 2019, prohibit persons from selling or offering commodities wrapped in plastics for sale unless the nature of such commodities require plastic wrapping.
Also, the regulations require persons intending to import, export, manufacture or sell plastic carrier bags after June 1, 2019 to register for a license or permit.The regulation imposes stern penalties to individuals and institutions that will be found guilty of contravening the regulations.
For instance, manufacturing or importation of prohibited plastic bags and plastic wrappings can lead to fines of up to Sh1 billion, or imprisonment of up to two years, or both. Likewise, possession and usage can lead someone to fines of up to Sh200,000, or imprisonment of up to Seven days, or both.
However, the regulations have exempted plastic or plastic packaging for medical services, industrial products, construction industry, agricultural sector, food processing, or sanitary and waste management. To facilitate smooth implementation of regulations, the Police Force, the Immigration Department, and the Tanzania Revenue Authority will have to take part in the process.
Through Guidelines released by the Permanent Secretary in the Vice President’s Office (Union Affairs and Environment), Mr Joseph Malongo directs inspectors, execution officers and citizens that inspection is allowed in retail shops, market places, wholesalers, warehouses, factories, country borders and any other places where commodities are sold. He said inspectors and implementing officials are required to introduce themselves each time they arrive at places subject to inspections and it is prohibited to stop vehicles for inspections.
“It is not allowed to enter people’s homes or stop vehicles or any other means of transport to search for plastic bags,” said the PS in a statement, adding. “In case vehicles or other means of transport are stopped for any other traffic reasons just to find plastic bags carried by the said vehicle, appropriate punishment will be issued in accordance with the law and that they should be directed to take the consigned to reserved areas.”
Furthermore, Mr Malongo said any person who will be found in possession or still using the prohibited material, then he/she will be liable to a fine and sued if the fine is not be paid on time. “The fined persons will be given government receipts. Wisdom should prevail during the exercise and that use of excessive force, including beating or arresting and remanding citizens was not allowed,” he said.