Dodoma — DRIVERS using tree branches instead of triangles to notify road users in case of highway breakdowns risk serious penalties because it is illegal, the Deputy Minister in the Vice-President's Office, Mr Charles Kitwanga has said.
Mr Kitwanga told the National Assembly on Friday that the pruning of tree branches was unlawful and soon the government would institute legal measures against the malpractices with a view to protect the environment.
He was responding to the question by Ms Mariam Msabaha (Special Seats -CHADEMA), who wanted to know what the government was doing to rescue environment, as use of tree branches by some drivers as a signal for a breakdown had become a common practice.
"Drivers are supposed to use triangles according to traffic laws to notify other road users over a breakdowns, use of tree branches instead of triangles is unacceptable and illegal," he said.
Earlier, Ms Betty Machangu (Special Seats - CCM), said fishing sector in Kilimanjaro Region was facing a snag as seaweeds have almost covered the surface of Lake Jipe and as a result 65 per cent of fishing activities have stopped.
However, on the Kenyan side of the lake, the problem does not exist. The legislator also wanted to know if the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project dubbed- 'Sustainable Land Management' of 2011/2013 was of any hope for the lake's future and if there were any salvaging plans for Lake Jipe.
Ms Machangu also asked the government to declare the area as a reserve corridor and decide it become part of Mkomazi Game Reserve, encourage ecotourism and thereafter compensate people settling in the vicinity. Responding to the questions, Mr Kitwanga noted that the decision to compensate people to vacate the areas would be made after local authorities have decided on the matter.
"The Environmental Management Act, 2004 requires that such processes start at the local authority levels and the regional authority thereafter forward the matter to higher levels," he said.
He also noted that if there was any need to change the use of the Lake and connect it with Mkomazi and Tsavo, it was still the role of the regional authority to decide and advise. Mr Kitwanga admitted that the situation was bad on the Tanzania's side of the Lake as it was highly affected with seaweeds known as Typha, adding that the situation was different due to disparity in the land use plans.
He said that in Kenya the Tsavo game reserve has helped to manage the lake as there were no human activities going on. "On the Tanzanian side the lake is surrounded with villages most of whom engage in unsustainable agricultural activities leading to silting of soil, chemical residues into the lake that encourage growth of seaweeds," he said.
He noted that the UNDP project was yet to take off as procedures were yet to be finalised between the government and United Nations body. He added that once the procedures were completed, the government would bring experts from Israel who would conduct a study on how to get rid of the seaweeds in the area.