NEMA Put On Spotlight Over Failed implementation Of The ‘Kaveera Ban’
The parliamentary Natural Resources committee has voiced its frustration over the failure of National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to enforce the Ban on Kaveera.
The committee was meeting officials from NEMA to respond to a number of issues, key among which was the Kaveera ban. The meeting that took place today was chaired by Hon. Kiwanuka Keefa and NEMA was led by the ED Dr. Tom Okurut.
NEMA is mandated by law under the NEMA Act, the Finance Act 2009 and regulations there under to enforce the ban on plastic bags. In 2012, the case by Greenwatch against NEMA and the Attorney general was decided by court, declaring that the manufacture, distribution, use, disposal of plastic commonly referred to as kaveera, violated the right of citizens of Uganda to a clean and healthy environment.
However, even though NEMA insists that the ban in still and being enforced, members questioned the commitment and competence of NEMA to enforce it.
Hon Silas Aogon of Lira Municipality said that, “The issue of kaveera.. …these papers are like flower gardens in my constituency.. They are a menace…When do we feel the presence of NEMA in rural communities. Yes, we hear that NEMA has banned these products, but the enforcement is only here in Kampala.”
Hon Silas also tasked NEMA to explain the challenges they are facing in enforcing the law. “What is the plan by NEMA to ensure enforcement? Yes we know the investors keep running to the President to block these bans but Parliament has a lot of power but we need to know the challenges NEMA faces, if we are to help.”
Dr. Tom Okurut asked the committee to interface with the Minister for Trade and Industry on the matter. NEMA maintains that the plastic carrier bags should be banned, Dr Tom however, voiced frustration on the enforcement saying that there is crowding in implementation of the law with different agencies of government involved, causing the confusion.
NEMA added that they have continued to engage cabinet, the policy committee on environment, MDAs and other stakeholders to increase support for the ban.
Hon Nankabirwa Anna Maria expressed concern saying that NEMA’s hands seemed to be tied and therefore the committee should resurrect the issue and put whoever is behind the support for the plastic bags to task.
NEMA, in its statement to the committee also said that on March 13 2017, the President directed that the current policy on the ban of plastic bags should be reviewed to save investments by the private sector and to promote the waste management processes.
They added that an inter-ministerial meeting was convened by the Minister of Finance, planning and Economic Development to discuss the Presidents’ directive and a policy paper has since been developed to inform the decision on the matter.
However MPs were quick to point out that the position of Parliament and the Act that placed that ban has not been amended and as such NEMA is obligated to continue the enforcement of the ban.
Hon Namayanja Florence said, “We still insist that NEMA implements the ban on Kaveera, if the President stands in the way then all the negative environmental consequences will be on his head.”
Members of the committee unanimously agreed to raise the matter on the floor of Parliament, so that the whole house pronounces itself again on the Kaveera ban.