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Minister Byabagambi Grilled, Over ‘Unfulfilled’ Plastics Ban

Karamoja Affairs Minister, John Byabagambi (Right) appearing before the Committee on Natural Resources.

The Uganda Plastics Manufacturers and Recyclers Association has blamed Karamoja Affairs Minister, John Byabagambi, for promoting the total ban of plastics or kaveera, a move they said is intended to drive them out of business.

Mr Allan Ssenyondwa, the group’s Manager for Policy and Advocacy, said they are abiding fully by the National Environment Act, 2018, but expressed shock on attempts to amend the law and altogether ban kaveera.

“We are law abiding and have been working towards encouraging every plastic manufacturer to set up a recycling plant at the factory as required by the new law, but we were shocked when the Minister warned us to the effect that our factories will soon be closed down as a way of implementing a total ban on kaveera,” Ssenyondwa said.

The Committee on Natural Resources, chaired by Dr Keefa Kiwanuka (NRM, Kiboga East), is entertaining a petition from the group, who are angry that there are interests coalescing behind the Minister to deliberately disadvantage them.

Minister Byabagambi termed the accusations baseless, and said he is innocently implementing a directive from President Yoweri Museveni, who he said instructed him to head a Cabinet sub committee to consider a complete ban on kaveera in Uganda.

The sub committee is said to comprise Eng Byabagambi as Chair, Agriculture State Minister, Christopher Kibazanga, and a one Dr. Mwanje, a scientist from the Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs.

“After receiving the letter [from President Museveni], I called for a meeting well aware of the cry of manufacturers , we decided to make consultations which is a process followed whenever forming a Cabinet paper so that Cabinet can discuss because it is Cabinet to take a decision,” Byabagambi said.

Byabagambi said in the event that a decision has to be made, it will be Cabinet to do so, not him, and that consultations have just began and that even the views of the manufacturers will be catered for.

“We haven’t consulted all stakeholders and I feel it is proper that we consult widely and we inform Cabinet from an informed point of view, so that Cabinet takes appropriate decision whether to ban or not to ban,” Byabagambi noted.

MPs were shocked to learn that government was considering the idea of a complete ban, which they said shouldn’t be coming in the wake of the newly passed legislation that only addressed the acceptable microns, a standard of specification of environmentally friendly kaveeras.

Environment and climate change activists are calling for a complete ban, a move that has suffered resistance from various quarters, mainly the manufacturers.

The Committee will have to report back to Parliament with recommendations on how the petition should be disposed of.

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