Dodoma. Tanzania is to enforce a total ban on the use of plastic bags by June, 2019, as the government moves to protect the environment from choking mounds of the deadly plastic waste.
Manufacturers of plastic bags are expected to use the two months window to unwind their businesses estimated to run into billions of shillings.
The announcement on the impending ban was made in Parliament by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa during the winding up of his office’s budget for 2018/19 financial year.
The ban, seen as long coming, will mean no plastic bags will be manufactured or traded in the country from June. Tanzania joins other countries such as Kenya, Rwanda and Zanzibar to enforce a total ban on the use of plastic bags.
Environmentalists have campaigned for many years for authorities to ban the use of plastic but business interest groups have often prevailed due to fear of job and tax losses.
Mr Majaliwa told Parliament that the decision to ban the materials was meant to protect the health of people and animals, as well as protect the environment.
“Letting plastic bags serve as the main carrying items constitute a serious hazard to the environment,” said the Premier.
He urged manufactures to start producing alternative bags that are environmentally friendly.
Earlier, Kaliua Member of Parliament Magdalena Sakaya (CUF), sought to know the government’s strategy towards ending the use of plastic bags.
Ms Sakaya accused the government of lacking the political will to ban plastic bags as have Zanzibar, Rwanda and Kenya.
“Over the years, the government has been talking about banning plastic bags but we see no action yet continued use of the plastic bags threatens the environment," Ms Sakaya noted.