Everybody, including children, knows that dirt is a nuisance to human beings. But not everybody is aware of the repercussions such dirt may cause to humans and other living organisms.
Most households wherever they are in cities, towns and villages, consider filthy conditions simply as something undesirable.
It is for this reason that the Environmental Act 2004, was enacted, aimed at ensuring that environmental pollution, either in manufacturing factories or in households are avoided.
The intention was to ensure avoidance of health hazards such as break up of epidemics like cholera, diarrhea and dysentery.
A directive to this effect was accordingly issued by Vice-President’s Office almost two year s ago requiring people to engage in environmental cleanliness during the first Saturday of every month.
Implementers of the directive are City, Municipal and District Councils.
This directive, well intentioned as it is, does not seem to have yielded the anticipated results. The reason is that the populace is facing a puzzle in the implementation of the order.
For example, whereas the Tanga city has been reminding people in wards and locations to come out of their households and engage in public participation campaign “msaragambo”, every first Saturday of the month, the residents are at a loss to know what to do.
The only message to this effect was communicated through public address system and the local television , TaTV, strongly warning those who would defy the directive, issued by the Tanga City Council (TCC) but announced by Tanga District Commissioner’s Office to be prepared to part with an instant fine of 50,000/-.
A large section of city residents interviewed at the weekend are of the view that the directive has flaws, saying the authorities should not be surprised to find that implementation of the order does not fully succeed in view of the hurdles involved.
For example, implementation of the order varies from location to location. In some, residents maintain cleanliness of their households and clear shrubs that may be next to their areas.
But in others, residents completely disassociate themselves with clearing grass on nearby plots abandoned by the owners for years.
“How does cleanliness on somebody’s plot concern me? asked Said Omari, a resident of Mabawa ward, adding that as long as he ensured cleanliness in the entire area of his , that was enough.
Similarly, many people, especially businessmen, wonder why they should be forced to open their shops, pharmacies, dispensaries, restaurants after 9:30 am in order to engage in the operation when, in effect, the areas around their premises are spotlessly clean.
We clean our premises every morning daily before we open our enterprises. What else do we clean if it is not loss of our business hours, an economic loss?, queried Kumar Shah, a businessman who operates a clothing shop along Street No. 13.
He says “If somebody is bereaved, for example, and comes for a burial cloth in the early morning hours and finds the shops closed, will this not be an embarrassment to him?”
“People in locations do not know what is expected of them. They have not been told which areas they are to cover and why,” said a retired politician.
“To me, it seems no clear guidelines were issued by the Tanga City Council (TCC). It also seems even most of the local government leaders were not fully involved in the exercise which is supposed to be sustainable,” he adds.
Clarifying the directive at the weekend, Mzamil Shemdoe, Tanga Deputy Mayor, conceded that it could be possible that some leaders at location level are not fully conversant with the issue.
“Every household is required to keep its environment clean -free of pollution of any sort,” adding “If it happens that a neighbouring plot is outgrown with grass or shrub, it is the responsibility of the location chairman to trace the plot owner to make the areas clean’.
A market vendor at Mgandini said “We are really not happy that we are forced to do no business in the morning to engage in an activity which is not ours,” adding” early morning hours to us, is peak hours’.
“We pay market levy every day when we operate. Where does the money go?”
Generally, most city residents are not happy with the way the matter with regard to getting rid of environmental pollution is concerned.
The Tanga City Council (TCC) should, ideally, arrange for occasional location visits by its health officers to ensure every household kept his or her environment clean, failure to which such people should in default, be penalized according to the existing by - laws,” said Haruna Kikwesha, a resident of Nguvumali.
What has transpired in many wards and locations, not only in Tanga but also elsewhere, is the abandoning of by-laws. The question is should the by laws now be replaced by directives?
Again there is the question of involvement of residents by their local governments. The way it is, in most areas, the leaders shirk their responsibilities by not constantly being in touch with their electorates as far as issuance of official guidelines are concerned .
A few months ago, Omari Guledi, Tanga City Mayor, conceded that information on city cleanliness, were in some places miscarried to the populace.
“We have noticed the shortcoming and are presently embarking on serious strategies to ensure that the by- laws which had been turned to while elephants in most areas, become workable once again,” said the city boss.