THE government yesterday suspended importation, exportation, recycling and collection of hazardous waste until a new system regulating it is announced. Hazardous waste includes scrap metal, used batteries and other electronic waste.
A statement issued by the Vice-President's Office in Dar es Salaam after an impromptu visit to Dar es Salaam Port yesterday by Minister of State in the Vice- President's Office (Union and Environment) January Makamba and NEMC Director General Samuel Gwamaka also prohibits traders "from receiving hazardous waste from anyone, who does not have a permit to do so from the Vice-President's Office."
According to the statement, the government knows that there are 44 containers loaded with scrap metal at the port awaiting exportation, but to the shock of the ministerial delegation only 10 containers were at the port yesterday. This means 34 of them have been exported without authorisation.
"We will track down the culprits," he said, but gave no further details. Section 133(2) of the Environmental Management Act, 2004 (2) bans any person from transporting in Tanzania or exporting from Tanzania hazardous waste without a permit.
Permits for collecting and transporting hazardous waste are invalid effective from yesterday, the statement says. The statement adds that scrap metals were imported into the country as "loose cargo" from the Comoros via Zanzibar.
"This cargo has been impounded until investigation is completed. Legal action will be taken against importers for violating regulations," the statement says.
It also warns that people, who destroy public infrastructure and trade in scrap metals "will hereafter be charged with destruction of public infrastructure under the Economic Sabotage Act."
The statement says all people trading in the categorised hazardous waste must register themselves with the National Environment Management Council (NEMC).
It adds that the Vice-President's Office has organised a meeting to be attended by government functionaries in Dodoma tomorrow and another meeting for stakeholders will be held next month.
The statement calls for public cooperation on the issue.