On March 21st, the government of Tanzania suspended the importation, exportation, recycling and collection of hazardous waste until a new system for regulation is announced. Hazardous waste includes scrap metal, used batteries and other electronic waste.
A statement issued by the Vice-President`s Office yesterday after an impromptu visit to Dar es Salaam Port by the Minister of State in the Vice President`s Office responsible for Union and Environment, January Makamba and the National Environmental Management Council (NEMC) Director General, Samuel Gwamaka also prohibits traders from receiving hazardous waste from anyone who does not have a permit to do so from the Vice President`s Office.
According to the statement, the government knew that there were 44 containers loaded with scrap metal at the port awaiting exportation, but to the shock of the ministerial delegation only 10 containers were at the port on March 21st, meaning 34 of them had been exported without authorization.
The statement stated the office would track down the culprits and cited Section 133(2) of the Environment Management Act 2004 which bans anyone in Tanzania from importing or exporting hazardous waste without permit. `Permits for collecting and transporting hazardous waste are invalid with effect from March 21st, ` the statement read. The statement added that scrap metals were imported into the country as `loose cargo` from the Comoros via Zanzibar. `This cargo has been impounded until investigation is completed. Legal action will be taken against importers that violate regulations, ` the statement read.
Further, the statement warned that people who destroy public infrastructure and trade in scrap metal will hereafter be charged with destruction of public infrastructure under the Economic Sabotage Act. The statement also said that all people trading in the categorized hazardous waste must ensure to be registered with the National Environmental Management Council (NEMC). A meeting has been organized by the Vice President’s Office in Dodoma on 23rd March to be attended by government functionaries, and another will be convened for stakeholders to find a way forward for the hazardous sector issues.