THE government has directed some of its institutions to start phasing out the use of charcoal as a source of cooking energy with immediate effect, a measure that is aimed at conserving environment, the Minister of State in the Vic-President's Office (Union and Environment Affairs) January Makamba, has announced.
The minister says the institutions that have been directed to start implementing the directives include prisons, hospitals, military camps and schools. The directive issued is part of the wider Roadmap that the government is in the process of drafting to phase out charcoal use across the country.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday in Dar es Salaam, Mr Makamba (pictured) said his office has already written to the institutions, directing them to inform respective tenderers about the government decision that aimed at slowing down the pace of cutting down trees in the country.
The minister said, in the letters written to the institutions, each respective tenderer would now be required to switch to gas after the expiry of the existing contracts instead of charcoal and firewood they have been supplying all along.
The minister explained that surveys and researches showed that the pace at which deforestation was occurring due to charcoal production and firewood searching was appalling, insisting that unless the government took an affirmative action to reverse the trend the situation would worsen.
To facilitate the switching off to gas, the minister said his ministry held talks with stakeholders, producers and distributors of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPGs) and agreed to install gas storage facility and gas cookers in the institutions. According to Mr Makamba, the stakeholders have agreed to do the job at zero cost.
The minister explained an analysis on comparative advantage carried out by his office established beyond reasonable doubt that the use of gas was cheaper and would enable the institutions to make savings in their expenditures.
"As the government implements its affirmative action in conserving environment the institutions themselves stand to benefit by making savings in their expenditures," the minister observed.
He said it was the government expectations to phase out charcoal use in all government institutions within a year.
Speaking about the wider roadmap that the government was in the process of drafting, the minister said the Vice- President's Office reached the decision in an effort to implement resolutions of the meeting held in November last year, involving leaders from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and producers and distributors of LPGs.
He said in order to have the best blueprint the government would involve the private sector, government institutions, Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs), local government authorities, oil and gas companies and companies and individuals dealing with alternative methods of charcoal production in the drafting process.
The minister said the Roadmap would provide a clear strategy on how to completely phase out charcoal, including, the timetable. The programme would also reveal economic opportunities that are likely to emerge in the use of alternative methods of charcoal production.
The National Environmental Trust Fund would also be fully involved.