Posted 05 September 2011, by James Mwakisyala, East African Business Week, busiweek.com
DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA- The Zanzibar Government has banned imports, manufacture and use of plastic bags and encouraged the use of bio-degradable materials for carrying shopping.
The ban, imposed recently under the Environment (Protection) Act – Plastic Ban Regulation No. 49, 2008, will penalize anyone who breaches it with a six-month jail term or a fine of Tshs 1.5 million (US$925) or both.
The move against use of the hazardous plastic bags according to the Isles Minister of State in the First Vice-President’s Office (Environment, HIV and Disabled Persons), Ms Fatma Abdul-Habib Fereji, is intended to save the Isles.
Immigration officials have been instructed to enforce the ban at all entry points that include airports and seaports, and markets and along streets.
The Zanzibar Government has been working on the matter since 2008 when the first ban on the use of plastic bags – below 30 microns – was imposed, but the business community virtually ignored it.
The Government noted that use of the banned materials and littering was intense and was threatening the environment and as well being an eyesore. Statistics show that “between 184,349 and 553,047 plastics bags are dumped in Zanzibar every day, polluting the environment extensively,” said the Minister.
The ban will encourage shopkeepers and marketers to start using paper and sisal bags, and women will be encouraged to use straw bags. The ban comes at the time Zanzibar has been chosen to host a three-day climate change conference on December 12 to 14, 2011. The conference is in recognition of the fact that the twin Zanzibar Isles are among small island states threatened by effects of climate change.
Zanzibar, who se income comes mainly from tourism, organized the three-day symposium to deliberate the impact of climate change in small island states.
The symposium bears the theme of “First International Symposium on Impact and Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change in Small Island Developing States.” It is being organized by the State University of Zanzibar to raise national and international awareness on threats of climate change to small island states, which are leading tourist attraction destinations in the world, including the island of Zanzibar.
Climate change scientists had earlier raised their concern over climate changes in Zanzibar and threats to rising water levels of the Indian Ocean, and predicted dangers ahead, among them, a possible sinking of some islands which make the Zanzibar archipelago.
Experts further warned of a possibility of key beaches of Zanzibar and a big part of this island being submerged by the Indian Ocean within the the next 100 years.
According to the State University of Zanzibar, key speakers will be drawn from other island states including Samoa and Japan. Other speakers confirmed to attend will come from Tanzania and South Africa.
A number of topics have been drawn for discussion by climate change experts and policymakers. Key topics for discussion are: Climate Change and Biodiversity; Climate Change and Tourism; Climate Change and Ecosystem Services; Climate Change and Agriculture and Food Security; Climate Change, Land Use, and Forestry; and Climate Change and Human Health, among many others.
Zanzibar is made up of two major islands in the Indian Ocean. Unguja is the main island and Pemba Island in the northern side is the small one, with a series of other, small uninhabited fishing coral islands.