KAMPALA. The implementation of the ban on polythene bags commonly known as kaveera is to spread across the country, the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) announced at the weekend.
Nema executive director Tom Okurut said the ban is effective as most supermarkets in central Kampala have adjusted to other biodegradable packaging alternatives that are environmentaly friendly such as paper bags and long-lasting nylon bags.
“We began with Kampala but that doesn’t mean we end here. Other areas like Mukono, Jinja, Soroti, Masindi, Kabale and Mbarara are collecting sites and the implementation of the ban has to be country wide,” said Mr Okurut.
The Nema executive director pointed out that the only challenge was the inability to close businesses that have failed to comply with the law. “Nema is vulnerable and cannot close businesses,” Mr Okurut said while featuring on Capital Radio talk show, the Capital Gang.
Another panelist on the talk show, Ms Robinah Shonubi, a businesswoman, aised Nema to sensitise citizens about garbage management and sorting. “The buveera would be disposed of properly if people knew about garbage disposal,” she said.
Mr Okurut said Nema will work with Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA), municipalities, manufacturers and recyclers all over the country to ensure the ban stands. “We shall sensitise the public to use available alternatives,” he said.
Supermarket owners in Mukono District welcomed the ban saying it will go a long way in preventing environment degradation. Others, however, blamed NEMA over failure to sensitise them about other alternatives ahead of the exercise.
“The ban is good for the environment but it is an inconvenience for us. At the moment, we are trying to adopt to the use of the durable straw bags but these are expensive,” Ms Sarah Tusiime, the Sombe Supermarket administrator, said.
Straw bags cost Shs15,000 at wholesale but a customer has to pay Shs18,000 as retail price. Paper bags cost between Shs300 and Shs700. Other alternatives include used boxes and nylon bags.
Ms Enid Kataha, a shopper, said Nema has to be unwavering and not go silent again. “Kaveera is very deadly,” Ms Kataha said.
In Masaka District, supermarket proprietors are still reluctant to implement the ban on polythene bags. The traders Daily Monitor interviewed at the weekend said government has not clearly pronounced itself on the matter.
An on spot visit to various supermarkets in town last Saturday showed that attendants were still packing shoppers’ items in the outlawed polythene bags of less than 100 microns.
“If Nema is genuinely fighting to protect our environment, they could have started with the manufacturers and importers, not us,” said , Hajji Badru Bbaale, the proprietor of Smart Shoppers Supermarket located on Kampala Road in Masaka Town
Ms Sarah Nakato, a supermarket attendant at Baron Supermarket, located on Elgin Street, aised Nema to first ensure that biodegradable materials, which are alternatives to Kaveera are accessible in all corners of the country before rushing to enforce the ban.
Mr Deus Kamara, a manager at Good Samaritan Supermarket, said the ban was too abrupt and it caught many traders unaware.
Mr William Panuha, the Southern Region Environmental Police Commander, said they have not yet received communication from their bosses in Kampala to enforce the ban in Masaka region.
In Masindi, it is business as usual as traders continue as though there was no ban announced. The traders said they will not embrace the ban unless government puts in place an alternative.
Ms Betty Kasigwa, a milk vendor in Masindi Town, said it is unfair for government to stop the use of Kaveera without availing any alternative means of packing milk.
The Masindi District environment officer, Mr William Nsimire, said he already has a plan to mount a district-wide operation to effect the ban. “I do not need to wait for instructions from anybody we shall do enforcement and sensitisation at the same time,” he said
In Tororo District, owners of supermarkets, wholesalers and retail shops that were interviewed by the Daily Monitor said the authority has not prepared Ugandans on the phasing out of polythene bags.
Ms Ereminah Ochwo, a wholesaler in Tororo market says the directive is fine but government should have sensitised communities on the law before implementing it.
However, Tororo municipal authorities have rallied behind the directive on grounds that Kavera has been contributing to the highest percentage of garbage in town.
The Tororo town mayor Mr Geofrey Emokol Opua said much as the ban has been effected, municipal authorities has not been served with circulars to back up the implementation.
The business people in Soroti Town asked for more time to dispose of the Kaveera to avoid losses.
Mr Patel Vrijesh, the manager OM supermarket in Soroti said the idea is welcome and promotes good hygiene.
Eseru Watsemwa, Malik Fahad Jjingo, George Muzoora,
Edie Enuru and Joseph Omollo
SOURCE: Daily Monitor