KAMPALA – Thousands of Ugandans including school-going children have continued to pile more pressure on the government, asking the authorities to rethink the laws governing plastic, production, use, and disposal.
A boisterous crowd of thousands of environment lovers – many adorned in white T-shirts, thronged streets of the capital, calling for urgent action on the plastics pollution and the environment.
Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga gave a promising speech about the dangers of plastic, while Minister of State for environment Beatrice Anywar called it a scourge and said the government would soon declare a “war” on single-use plastic.
Kadaga called for the implementation of the National Environmental Act, 2017 which provides for emerging environmental issues including climate change, the management of hazardous chemicals and biodiversity offsets plus management of plastics products.
The speaker who flagged off the World Wide Fund for nature Earth Hour Movement 2020 walk at the Constitutional Square in Kampala said that despite Parliament passing the law, no serious action has been taken towards the elimination of plastic bags from the market in spite of their negative implications on the environment.
“Today we have got children who should grow up in a better society and should be able to assist us in implementing our laws. The plastics are of different types and are really dangerous to the environment, animals and sometimes people use them for cooking our food which can endanger our lives,” Kadaga said, adding that; “We shall not wait for studies to act. We must act now, as individuals, schools, churches, mosques, cities, and government.”
Kadaga asked the minister to ensure tough sanctions are introduced on Kaveera and other forms of plastics.
Speaker Kadaga and Ms. Anywar are both strong proponents of campaigns against environment arrangements.
Kadaga recently expressed disappointment with the Ministry of Finance for not providing funds meant for the Tree Fund which is provided for in the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act, 2003.
“I am frustrated with the Ministry of Finance for failing the Tree Fund under the National Forestry Act; it’s now 16 years and every time we put it up they cut the funds from the Ministry. If the tree fund is approved then we can have more trees planted,” she said.
While Ms. Anywar is remembered for her stance against clearing Mabira Forest for sugarcane growing a decade ago.
At the march in Kampala, she said Uganda should never be a dumbing site for plastics, vowing tough sanctions against Kaveera.
“WWF has given us a chance to march against plastic usage in Uganda. As a country, we are not disciplined on how we are using these plastics. Kaveera’s use will be restricted. As a Ministry we look forward to empowering NEMA to put in place the ban we have already tested in parliament,” Anywar said.
She added: “You remember how they were pulling them down from supermarkets and the business people said it is a source of revenue?”
David Duli, the WWF Country Director, empathized that dumping of plastics should be regulated and people should adapt to reusable plastics that are already on the market.
He said WWF wants people to understand that without nature they cannot do anything.
“We are eating more than we can produce. We use plastics every day but we need to regulate so we are going to move for one month in a bid to create awareness about the dangers of plastics.”