The Deputy Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (Environment), Mussa Sima told the National Assembly yesterday that the pollution was a result of accumulation of plastic objects.
His statement came in response to a question by Konde MP Khatib Said Haji (CUF), who wanted to know what the government was doing to help control dumping of plastic objects at the major beach area.
“What are the government’s plans to maintain cleanliness at the beaches, especially at Tanga deep sea which is being visited by many tourists?” he demanded.
In his response, the deputy minister said some of the rubbish at the port is brought by flowing rain water from different places, noting that the government in collaboration with district councils has started taking action on polluters.
The main goal is to keep the area clean, with concerted campaigns on environmental cleanliness being conducted on fishermen, traders, environment awareness groups and others.
Effects of climate change differ in various parts of the region, he said, urging the public to take greater care on environmental cleanliness.
The government tabled the Environment Management Act of 2004 for effective and sustainable management of the environment, he pointed out.
The legislation sets out standards and procedures, duties and limits, creates obligations for all stakeholders which are intended to fit human activities and govern resources sustainably. “With a strong institutional framework that is well coordinated, these environmental problems could be resolved,” he declared.
As the government has banned plastic bags as part of efforts to tackle pollution, cleaning up already affected areas is the next observable step.
The ban followed similar steps in the region, where all EAC partners nearby had already phased out non-biodegradable carrier bags, chiefly thin plastics.
The ban applies to the production, importation, sale and use of all single-use plastic bags. The government warned tourists to surrender any plastic bags upon stepping on the country’s shores or airports, also to prevent pollution of popular attractions such as Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti.
Manufacturing plastic bags can lead to a two-year prison sentence or a fine of up to $400,000 (€357,000). Anyone found carrying a bag can be subject to an on-the-spot fine of $13.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) welcomed the ban, calling plastic "a silent killer of our natural environment."
"This is because it takes more than 100 years for a single plastic bag to decay," WWF Tanzania director Amani Ngusaru said.
“We are happy that Tanzania is among the very few African countries to effectively ban the use of plastic bags."