Environmental body, NEMA has said Kampala is choking on waste with 1500 tons released every day.
“In Kampala alone 1500 tons of waste are generated every day and it is estimated that in urban areas, waste generation per capita stands at around one kilogram per day,” the NEMA Executive Director, Dr Akankwasa Barirega told journalists on Thursday.
The NEMA boss explained that plastics take a lion’s share of this waste with over 600 tons being produced every day throughout the country.
He added that whereas only 40% of this waste is collected and dispose of properly, the remaining 60% finds its way into the environment leading to a number of problems.
“These(60%) constitute the greatest part of pollution of our lakes, rivers , degradation of our soils and rendering fertility and productivity of agriculture ineffective and needless to say the rampant blockage of our drainage channels culminating into floods we see today,”Akankwasa said.
He said that the waste blocks drainage channels and that the rest that goes through ends up in lakes, rivers and other drainage systems and has an effect on the environment.
“These(waste) come along with pathogens which find their way into the food chain like the fish, crops we eat and everything we get from the soil. This is because of irresponsible disposal of waste gets its way into the soil.”
Dr.Akankwasa said whereas some of the waste doesn’t get into water sources, it affects the soil and the animals which ingest the waste , become infected and when humans consume meat from the animals, the cycle of pathogens continues .
“It is our responsibility to ensure we address this challenge.”
Quoting section 76 of the NEMA Act, Akankwasa said manufacturers have responsibility to collect their waste, especially plastics, adding that the producer must label and has responsibility to collect.
“Since the extended responsibly places the burden on manufacturers to collect the plastic waste, as government we will soon be taking the responsibility to the producers fining them with penalties to collect the waste they generate,” he said.
The NEMA boss said this will be an avenue for creation of job for the waste collectors as manufacturers will have no way out other than paying youths to collect the waste on their behalf.
Akankwasa said they are currently running an electricity generation program from organic solid waste so that the country is saved from the burden of solid waste but at the same time generate power.
The program is undertaken by NEMA and the Ministry of Energy with support from UNDP and to be piloted starting with Kiteezi land fill in Wakiso district.
Akankwasa also noted that the ban on Kaveera especially those below 30 microns is still on but noted they are pushing for a total ban.
“The ban on Kaveera is on and our operations are ongoing. The only challenge is that the law limits us to only single use plastics of 30 microns and below yet to a common Ugandan, this is very difficult to distinguish. We are preparing to go back to parliament to request to give us a total ban on plastics and will make enforcement very easy.”