Dar es Salaam — The government has temporarily suspended operations at the country's largest incinerator for hospital waste in Mkuranga, Coast Region, following complaints that it exposes Dundani villagers to toxic emissions.
Mkuranga District executive director Mshamu Munde told The Citizen that the operations were put on hold to allow the owner to make necessary improvements to control emissions.
The decision came two days after The Citizen published a story on the plight of Dundani villagers, who complained that the facility was exposed them to serious health risks.
On Monday, the Mkuranga district administration, the National Environment Management Council (Nemc) and the Health ministry held a meeting with the operator of Safe Waste Incinerator about the complaints levelled against it.
"We have told the owner to suspend operations. We felt that he should make some improvements," said Mr Munde.
Operations at the facility have been suspended at a time Nemc officials were inspecting the facility, including measuring emission levels to see whether they conformed to standards.
Mr Munde said villagers' complaints that heavy smoke and choking smell produced by the hospital incinerator troubled them were genuine.
He said the owner of the incinerator had also been told to dig a pit for ash produced by the facility.
There have been complaints about huge quantities of burnt hospital waste being dumped in unauthorised areas in Mkuranga.
The official added that they had discovered that many factories were established and operated without following proper procedures.
Mkuranga District medical officer, Dr Stephen Mwandambo, said he had himself made close a follow-up on the incinerator and met the owner. "What we agreed, among other things, was to temporarily suspend operations so that he gets time to make improvements," he said.
The owner acquired land on which he built the incinerator between 2013 and 2014. At that time the place was not populated as it is today. It is in the midst of residential houses and villagers protest against adverse effects on human health and the environment.