Learn from Rwanda, Ugandan minister advises

Uganda is pushing for a regional policy similar to that of Rwanda to ban polythene material, an environment minister has said.

Uganda is pushing for a regional policy similar to that of Rwanda to ban polythene material, an environment minister has said.

Jessica Eriyo said recently that the Ugandan government would push for the adoption of an East African policy to ban polythene bags – also known in Ugandan as Buveera – of up to 100 microns just like Rwanda.

“Our decision is to ban all Buveera. Since Rwanda is now a member of the East African Community (EAC), we have to harmonise our policies with theirs.

I doubt whether Rwanda can accept to soften its ban. We as a region are going to learn a lot from them,” she said.

The minister’s comments come after Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, all EAC member states, banned production, importation and use of thin polythene bags and materials of 30 microns (120 gauge) or less.

However, Kenya later backtracked and suspended its ban to early next year.

Tanzania is so far implementing the ban while Uganda effected its ban at the end of September.

Rwanda banned polythene material of up to 100 microns a couple of years back.
But Eriyo said the debate to adopt a tougher ban has kicked off at the regional level.

“If you go to countries like Rwanda people there are more organised. People there are strict with Buveera. I think the problem with us is enforcement. That is why we shall have to learn Rwanda’s approach,” she said.

She was bitter that Kenya had not fully cooperated in harmonising the regulations. “Industries producing those materials (plastic bags) are more in Kenya than in any other partner state. We are doing this (ban) for our people but not governments. In Kenya there are a number of things that could affect government policy but that, I promise, would not affect our own regulation,” she said.

Inspections to halt smuggling of polythene bags, she said, will be conducted at border points, production and distribution points.

Further coordination and harmonisation of implementation of the control measures by the member countries of the EAC and World Trade Organisation (WTO) is ongoing, Eriyo added.

 “We are developing tools (standards, regulations, incentives and disincentives) for the enforcement of the strategy and provide for their regular review. The sharing of experiences and harmonisation of strategies within the EAC are going on,” she said.
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