The State minister for Environment, Ms Beatrice Anywar, has called for drastic action and buy-in from new legislators to fight environmental degradation, pollution and the climate crisis.
Speaking at a dialogue on climate change in Kampala yesterday, Ms Anywar said plastics from Rwanda are polluting the country’s environment due to limited attention towards protection.
“I get embarrassed when I am flying with KLM, when you reach Rwanda, they tell you to leave all the plastics in the aircraft because it is not allowed in Rwanda. So the plane leaves Rwanda with plastics, which end up in Uganda, including the ones of the Rwandans which were left in the plane,” she said.
But the government has also failed to reign over the large volumes of plastics being manufactured from within the country despite the clear laws, according to environmentalists.
Section 2 of the 2009 Finance Act prohibits the importation, local manufacture, sale or use of plastic bags or bags of polymers of ethene and polyethene but implementation of the ban hit a snag following a disagreement and alleged intense lobbying by plastics manufacturers in the country.
Plastic bags are the major cause of water contamination in the lakes of Uganda causing threats to fish and aquatic life. They are also the major cause of clogging sewage systems in Kampala, a big problem that underpins endless flooding.
Ms Anywar said: “We are going to make public hotlines [for people to report issues of plastic pollution]. You see somebody throwing plastic bottles through the window [of the vehicle], get the number plate.”
She said President Museveni has now taken centre stage in protecting the country’s environment and that a lot will change.
“The President declared a war on saving the environment and we are strategising as soldiers going to the front. The underground work is being done.
A sub-cabinet committee was formed [to spearhead] ‘Ten years of restoration of the degraded environment’ headed by first deputy Prime Minister Rebecca Kadaga and we have been meeting every week. Soon you will see the bullets [impact],” she added.
A recent report from the Ministry of Water and Environment shows that wetlands declined from 15.6 per cent in 1990 to 8.4 per cent in 2017, while forest cover reduced from 24 per cent in 1990 to 9 per cent in 2015.