Dar es Salaam — Manufacturers of alcohol packaged in sachets must be smiling broadly following the government's decision to allow them to export the remaining stock.
However, the government has stuck to its guns that it would not lift the ban on manufacturing and distribution of alcohol packed in plastic sachets, famously known as viroba, in the country.
Speaking to reporters in Dar es Salaam yesterday, minister for state in Vice President's office (Environment and Union) Mr January Makamba, said the government will only allow the manufacturers and traders of alcohol packaged in sachets, which were seized by the government to export them.
Mr Makamba explained that the government made the decision after receiving many complaints from the traders. He was speaking during his tour of Thema Enterprises Limited.
"This doesn't mean we have lifted the ban imposed on production and distribution of alcohol, which is packaged in sachets. We have only allowed them to export them in order to clear the remaining stock," said Mr Makamba.
The minister added that South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo have expressed interest in purchasing viroba.
He advised the manufacturers of viroba to repackage their products to 200-millilitre bottles.
The government imposed the ban on the spirits in sachets earlier this year. The producers and distributors were given until March 1 to clear their stocks.
Concerns were rife as young Tanzanians, including school-going youth, indulged in drinking the spirits, which were being sold side by side with biscuits, pens, fruits and all manner of merchandise on roadsides.
There were also environmental concerns, and the fact that 'viroba', which are manufactured in backyards provided supplies for a parallel market that reportedly caused the government a loss of at least Sh600 million in unpaid taxes.