Littering takes the form of dumping and throwing garbage, Kaveera (polythene bags) and plastic bottles on the streets, which end up in drainage channels blocking the water flow, hence flooding the city.
According to Rosemary Harriet Namaganda, a shop owner at Abaita Ababiri Entebbe wakiso district, kaveera are being given for free or at a very cheap price for packaging customers’ goods, which is why most are careless, disposing of them anywhere without minding much.
“If these kaveera were not given free of charge and were charged separately from the goods purchased at a very high fee, most clients would be forced to keep them for recycling or be forced to go back to sisal bags, which are environmentally friendly, and not litter the whole place with kaveera,” said Namaganda.
She further revealed that, in the US, where packaging bags are charged separately from the goods purchased, clients keep their shopping bags very neatly for the next shopping trip, whereas here, all the kaveera are thrown away and no one cares to stock them for reuse. That is why the environment is choking up on kaveera.
Uganda’s several attempts to ban the population from the production, importation, sale, and use of polythene carry bags (kaveera) have failed.
The government first announced a ban on polythene bags with a thickness of 30 microns or less in 2007, and subsequent bans followed in 2009, 2015, 2018, and 2021. The National Environment Management Authority closed a number of factories and supermarkets after removing thousands of kilograms of the materials from them.
However, all these attempts by KCCA and government to fight and control Kaveera littering have failed, including the imposition of a fine of UGX 2 million for anyone found littering and dumping garbage in the city.
A study by Bio Vision Africa, an environmental research and conservation company, says Uganda has to ratify and apply the international agreements on the environment to boost its efforts to eliminate plastic waste. Uganda spends UGX 10 billion annually to clear drainage and plastic waste.
“Uganda generates approximately 600 metric tons of plastic waste every day, of which most ends up in drainage system, where 10 billion are used annually to clear the plastic waste,” Bio Vision Africa reveals.
SCP Fred Enanga, spokesperson of Uganda Police, issued an order early in March 2023, promising to enforce stricter laws and regulations on littering and noise pollution and warning the public that they should know that littering the environment is a crime, and that there are laws, that exist to keep our country clean.
“All types of material, like plastic bags, polythene bags, food wrappers, boxes, garbage, etc., that is disposed of incorrectly, thus reducing or diminishing the value of our natural environment, also negatively impacts our environment by choking waterways,” said Enanga.
He further revealed that the Environmental Protection Officers have a wealth of experience and good practices in tackling environmental crimes. They will work with all inspectors from NEMA, KCCA authorities, IT specialists in CCTV monitoring centers, and all other concerned members of the public to detect and prevent litter and other related offenses of illegal dumping and noise pollution.
Whether those measures will work, time will tell. But one is inclined to think in the same way as Namaganda, that if the cost of Kaveera was raised, say, from 100 shillings to 1000 shillings, society would be more careful in how they use and dispose of Kaveera.