A joint operation by the National Environment Management Council (NEMC) and police nabbed the unauthorized packaging materials yesterday at the city’s main market.
Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (Union and Environment) Selemani Jafo who was on official visit in the region went to Nyamagana Police Station where the items were kept and called for strict legal action against the persons found with the items.
Speaking after witnessing the consignment, minister Jafo commended NEMC, police, regional and Nyamagana district leaders for cooperating and succeeding in the operation.
"The government has on several occasions made it clear that wrapping materials are also banned just like carrier bags but it is unfortunate that there are some unscrupulous people who continue to distribute these bags,” he said.
He said the government has done enough sensitization on the matter especially on the fact that plastic carrier bags and wrappers are injurious to the environment, adding that what follows now is enforcement of the law by punishing those who violate it.
Mwanza Regional Police Commander ACP Muliro Jumanne said the opration was successful thanks to cooperation between state agencies and well wishers who passed on information to authorities.
NEMC Lake Zone Manager Redempta Samuel urged citizens to immediately stop using plastic bags and wrappers banned by the government to avoid harming environment and stay away from trouble.
Last month, NEMC seized prohibited tube plastics at Buswelu area in Ilemela district and blamed some of its officials for colluding with unscrupulous traders who import the materials from neighbouring countries.
NEMC Director General Dr Samuel Gwamaka said then that some of the council’s unscrupulous staff charged with enforcing plastic ban are part of a syndicate that facilitate entry and sale of the bags.
“They (NEC staff) have a noble duty of ensuring that the banned plastics do not get into the country; they are not supposed to work with the criminals,” he said.
From 1st June 2019 all plastic carrier bags, regardless of their thickness were prohibited from being imported, exported, manufactured, sold, stored, supplied or used in mainland Tanzania.
However, enforcement of this, while largely successful on carrier bags, has been facing challenges on the wrappers or tubes that NEMC is still struggling to get off the streets of major cities and towns.
According to regulation 8 of the prohibition of plastic bags which lists five offenses of producing, importing, distributing, selling and using prohibited bags the penalty is a fine of between 30,000/- to 10bn/- or up to two years in jail.