Dar es Salaam. The government said at the weekend that it would release a consignment of aluminium products imported by the city-based Ocean Aluminium Company after a thorough inspection by environmental experts.
Section 133(2) of the Environment Act, 2004, bars any person from transporting within Tanzania - or exporting - hazardous waste without a special permit.
In a nutshell, the law prohibits the importation, exportation, recycling or collection of hazardous waste - including scrap metal, used batteries, electronic waste and hospital dischargeables – without approval of the minister responsible for the Environment through the National Environmental Management Council (Nemc).
Ocean Aluminium Company had imported over 40 tonnes of aluminium without Nemc’s approval several months ago - and the consignment ended up being stranded at the Dar es Salaam port.
This prompted the minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office (Union and Environment), Mr Mussa Zungu, to visit the company at the weekend.
“I have come here as part of the government’s normal fact-checking procedures. I am now satisfied that the factory does indeed exist - and that it employs over 100 people. I have been told that the factory pays about Sh1.2 billion in government taxes a year,” said Mr Zungu.
Noting that the goods were imported without Nemc’s prior approval, he said they will be released only after being thoroughly scrutinised by experts.
He called on public and private institutions to observe Nemc guidelines when importing raw materials listed as hazardous materials. However, he stressed that the government does not intend to frustrate investors, but is out to justly sort out emerging challenges in efforts to create a friendly environment for investment and business.
The company’s personnel manager, Ms Aisha Omary, said Ocean Aluminium started operations in Tanzania January this year - but it has difficulties in getting enough raw materials.
Explaining that the aluminium cargo impounded at the port was an important input in manufacturing aluminium pots, she nonetheless admitted that that the company did not follow the laid-down procedures for importing the stranded materials.
“This has provided us with a good lesson on what we must do next time… We did not observe some of the regulations governing importation of raw materials into the country. We shall be consulting with Nemc on issues regarding imports to avoid such incidents in the future,” she said.