In February 2023, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) announced that it was set to implement a new express penalty scheme intended to deter non-compliance with environmental laws and prevent environmental degradation.
Among the new regulations, every car is supposed to have a dustbin, and any vehicle found without one will see the driver arrested or fined Shs 6 million.
On Saturday 1st April 2023 was the commencement for the enforcement to have the NEMA directive implemented.
According to NEMA Executive Director, Dr. Akankwasa Barirega, the operations had been suspended for at least 30 days as they continued to consult with the different stakeholder groups in the transport business.
The move to have all vehicles possess trash bins was however shunned by a few who thought that paying a fine of $6 million for not abiding by the directives was too harsh. On the other hand, the majority of motorists welcomed it as it was in good faith to prevent motorists and passengers from littering.
If Uganda is to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 11, “safe and clean cities,” it should be a deliberate move by the government to enforce these directives to prevent littering of rubbish and plastics on road sides.
The littered rubbish has not only contributed to dirty cities but has also become a big threat to the environment.
Also important, the littered rubbish, such as plastic bottles and polythene bags, has blocked many drainage channels, leading to the flooding of many city roads, not only in Kampala but also in other urban centers.
The absence of dustbins on many city streets and roads has made it difficult for road users to dump rubbish, so having trash bins in their cars gives them a temporary alternative as they get a better place to dump the rubbish rather than on city roads and streets.
In the past and even now, many public vehicles vying for long routes have always had trash bins for passengers to throw rubbish while travelling, and it’s this same culture that should be adopted by all motor vehicle owners, both private and public, to curb the vice of littering on streets, roads, and long distance journeys.
If well enforced, people’s mindsets about littering are likely to change, and through this, it’s possible to have clean and safe cities for all of us.
A clean city is possible, and it all begins with you.