Dar es Salaam. The minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (Union Affairs and Environment), Mr January Makamba, has reassured Tanzanians that the implementation of the Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectric project along the Rufiji River in the Selous Game Reserve will have no impact on the environment.
He further elaborated that the government had conducted a comprehensive environmental impact assessment (EIA) with a view to studying the nature of the area and learned the possible environmental hazards amid implementation of the power generation project.
He made the remarks on Tuesday during a one-to-one live interview programme dubbed “ChukuaHatua,” which was coordinated by Oxfam Tanzania that took place in Dar es Salaam. The programme was funded by the government of Belgium.
“The government always conducts the EIA before implementing a major development project, especially those whose implementation are likely to constitute serious environmental hazards. Therefore, in the case of Stiegler’s gorge, according to the EIA results, there would be no or less environmental hazards in the area,” he said.
He added: “If the EIA results indicate a possibility of occurrence of serious environmental hazards due to implementation of certain development project, we normally advise the project operators to find best solutions to combat the hazards first,”
However, since the government announced its intentions to continue developing the hydroelectric project whose capacity to generate at least 2,100MW, there has been heated debate around the development.
The ecologists are opposing the project on grounds that its implementation could damage the World Heritage site and constitute numerous environmental problems.
The Selous Game Reserve is reported to cover 50,000 square kilometres while the proposed hydroelectric project is expected to use a mere three per cent of the area. The project will see the construction of the largest dam in Tanzania for power generation.
Meanwhile, the minister further revealed that the government was planning to impose an embargo on production of plastic bags with a view to addressing environmental pollution in Tanzania.
According to him, Tanzania is importing at least 2,000 tonnes of plastic bags and producing at least 73 tonnes of plastic bags per year, citing that the increasing usage of plastic bags was attributed to technology advancement.
To address the challenge, the government had previously imposed at least 120 per cent tax to discourage production of the plastic bags.
“I had summoned the local producers to discuss on the matter. It is high time now to ban the production of the plastic bags,” he added.
Furthermore, Mr Makamba revealed that the government was in plans to establish waste-to-energy plants to generate power and boost power generation to the national grid.