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Tanzania joins other African countries with plastic bag bans

Africa has 34 of these countries, followed by Europe with 29.

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Tanzania joins other African countries with plastic bag bans | News Central TV
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A plastic bag ban comes into force in Tanzania on Saturday, as Africa leads efforts to stem the tide of plastic blighting the farthest reaches of the globe, and depths of the ocean.

Tanzania is banning the importation, production, sale and use of plastic bags, becoming the 34th African country to implement such restrictions, according to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).

“Let me be clear on this, once it reaches June 1, the government is not planning to add any more days and we will not tolerate anyone who will be caught using them. No plastic bag will be allowed in the country,” Tanzania’s vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan said when announcing the move in April.

Tanzania, whose wildlife is a popular tourist draw, has also issued a notice to travellers that they will have to “surrender” plastic bags in their possession before entering the country.

“The government expects that, in appreciation of the imperative to protect the environment and keep our country clean and beautiful, our visitors will accept minor inconveniences resulting from the plastic bags ban,” said the statement.

According to local media, anyone caught manufacturing or importing plastic bags and plastic wrappings could get a fine of one billion Tanzanian shillings ($430,000) or face imprisonment for up to two years. 

Possession and usage can lead to a fine of $87 or imprisonment for seven days, or both. 

Degrees of success –

Globally, 127 countries have some sort of plastic bag legislation, 91 of which include a ban or restriction on manufacturing, importation and retail distribution, according to UNEP.

Africa has 34 of these countries, followed by Europe with 29.

Patrick Mwesigye, UNEP’s regional co-ordinator for resource efficiency told AFP that the degree of success of the bans varied in Africa.

Rwanda’s plastic bag ban has been in place for over a decade and is considered one of the most successful.

“But Rwanda had an advantage that there wasn’t much manufacturing of plastics,” in the country when the ban was implemented, said Mwesigye.

Countries with manufacturing and import industries, where jobs are impacted by bans, have struggled more to enforce them. 

“In Kenya… it has been very effective. Still you have some plastic smuggled from neighbouring countries” like Uganda, he said.

Kenya’s 2017 plastic ban imposed particularly harsh laws, with fines of up to $38,000 and four-year prison sentences.

However, in reality, while there have been waves of arrests, fines, and jail terms have been far less than proscribed.

Mwesigye said some countries put bans in place before ensuring there were suitable alternatives in place, while monitoring and practical enforcement were also a challenge.

Scourge of single-use plastics –

Joyce Msuya, UNEP’s Acting Executive Director, praised Tanzania for joining the nations implementing the ban.

“It is critical that bans now be complemented by efforts to identify effective alternatives to single-use plastics…”

The world currently produces more than 300 million tonnes of plastics annually, and there are, at least, five trillion plastic pieces floating in oceans, scientists have estimated.

Most of the items polluting oceans and landscapes and causing horrendous deaths for the creatures that live there, are made to be used once and thrown away, such as bags, straws and food packaging.

In March, nations failed to agree to a timetable to phase out all single-use plastics, opting instead to “significantly reduce” their production.

Neither the United States, Canada or Australia have national plastic bag regulations -although some American states like Hawaii or California have implemented bans.

The European Union, in March, voted to ban a dozen forms of single-use plastics from 2021.

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Ugandan police confirm the death of 19 people in fuel truck blast

The blast occurred Sunday evening in the Kyambura trading centre, a mountainous area near the Queen Elizabeth National Park

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Ugandan police confirm the death of 19 people in fuel truck blast

Nineteen people died when a fuel truck barrelled into other vehicles in a busy town in western Uganda and exploded, police said Monday.

The blast occurred Sunday evening in the Kyambura trading centre, a mountainous area near the Queen Elizabeth National Park.

“Ten people died instantly when the fuel truck lost control and hit three other vehicles, leading to multiple explosions that also burned 25 small shops,” said regional police spokesman Martial Tumusiime.

“Of the people that were rushed to the hospital, nine of them have also died as a result of wounds,” he added. 

In 2002, 70 people were killed when an oil truck rammed into a bus in Rutoto, less than 50 kilometres from Kyambura.

And in 2013, 33 people died in an explosion after a fuel truck overturned — many having rushed to the scene to siphon fuel.

The accident in Uganda came eight days after a fuel truck exploded in Tanzania. The fireball engulfed a crowd thronging to collect petrol from the wrecked vehicle, leaving 95 dead.

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President pardons 4 jailed opponents in Comoros

The four were jailed for life for attempting a coup and threatening state security but had their terms reduced to 20 years in May

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Comoros President Azali Assoumani pardons 4 political opponents

Comoros President Azali Assoumani has pardoned four opposition figures jailed for life for an attempted coup in the Indian Ocean islands. In a decree issued Saturday, writer Said Ahmed Said Tourqui, lawyer Bahassane Ahmed Said, Mohamed Ali Abdallah and El-Had Ibrahim Halifa were “pardoned from all of their remaining sentences”.

The four were jailed for life for attempting a coup and threatening state security but had their terms reduced to 20 years in May when 17 other jailed opponents were pardoned. The charges were linked to unrest that followed a controversial constitutional referendum to extend the president’s term last year. 

Pay Attention: Comoros awaits results of divisive poll

Bahassane is the younger brother of Jaffar Ahmed Said Hassani, a former vice-president to Azali now living in exile in Tanzania after denouncing the president’s authoritarianism. The pardons follow Azali’s re-election in March, in which he pledged “appeasement measures” to quell accusations of voter fraud.

He was credited with nearly 60 per cent of the ballot, an outcome rejected as fraudulent by the opposition. Comoros has had a volatile political history since independence in 1975, enduring more than 20 attempted coups, four of which were successful.

Pay Attention: Comoros oil boom dream hinges on seismic survey

Azali initially came to power in a coup, then ruled between 1999 and 2006. He was re-elected in 2016 in a vote marred by violence and allegations of irregularities.

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Tanzania mourns 69 who were killed in fuel tanker blast

“We’re currently mourning the loss of 69 people, the last of whom died while being transferred by helicopter

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A Tanzanian security officer controls the area where the carcass of a burnt out fuel tanker is seen

Tanzania was in mourning Sunday, preparing to bury 69 people who perished when a crashed fuel tanker exploded as crowds rushed to syphon off leaking petrol. President John Magufuli declared a period of mourning through Monday following the deadly blast near the town of Morogoro, west of Dar es Salaam.

He will be represented at the funerals by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, an official statement said. “We’re currently mourning the loss of 69 people, the last of whom died while being transferred by helicopter to the national hospital in Dar es Salaam,” Majaliwa told residents in comments broadcast on Tanzanian television. 

The number of injured stood at 66, he said. The burials will start Sunday afternoon, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Jenista Mhagama announced during the morning after relatives identified the dead.

“The preparations for the burials have been completed. Individual graves have been dug and the coffins are ready,” Mhagama said, adding that experts would be available to offer psychological counselling to the victims’ relatives. 

DNA tests would be carried out on bodies that were no longer recognisable, Mhagama said, adding that families could take the remains of their loved ones and organise their own burials if they preferred.

Two men carry the remains of a burnt out motorbike after a fuel tanker exploded in Tanzania
Two men carry the remains of a burnt-out motorbike after a fuel tanker exploded on August 10, 2019, in Morogoro, 200 kilometres (120 miles) west of the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam. – At least 60 people perished in Tanzania when a fuel tanker overturned and then exploded as crowds of people rushed to syphon off leaking fuel. The deadly blast, which took place near the town of Morogoro, west of the economic capital Dar es Salaam, is the latest in a series of similar disasters in Africa. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)

Pay Attention: Fuel tanker blast kills 10 in Nigeria

In the latest in a series of similar disasters in Africa, 39 seriously hurt patients had been taken to hospital in Dar es Salaam while 17 others were being treated in Morogoro, 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of the economic capital of Tanzania.

Footage from the scene showed the truck engulfed in flames and huge clouds of black smoke, with charred bodies. The burnt-out remains of motorcycle taxis lie scattered on the ground among scorched trees. A video posted on social media showed dozens of people carrying yellow jerricans around the truck.

No-one wanted to listen

“We arrived at the scene with two neighbours just after the truck was overturned. While some good Samaritans were trying to get the driver and the other two people out of the truck, others were jostling each other, equipped with jerricans, to collect petrol,” teacher January Michael told reporters.

“At the same time, someone was trying to pull the battery out of the vehicle. We warned that the truck could explode at any moment but no one wanted to listen, so we went on our way, but we had barely turned on our heels when we heard the explosion.”

Police tape cordons off the area where the carcass of a burnt out fuel tanker
Police tape cordons off the area where the carcass of a burnt-out fuel tanker is seen along the side of the road following an explosion on August 10, 2019, in Morogoro, 200 kilometres (120 miles) west of the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam. – At least 60 people perished in Tanzania when a fuel tanker overturned and then exploded as crowds of people rushed to syphon off leaking fuel. The deadly blast, which took place near the town of Morogoro, west of the economic capital Dar es Salaam, is the latest in a series of similar disasters in Africa. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)

Pay Attention: Tanker accident in Tanzania claims 57 lives

President Magufuli called Saturday for people to stop the dangerous practice of stealing fuel in such a way, a common event in many poor parts of Africa. He issued a statement saying he was “very shocked” by the looting of fuel from damaged vehicles. 

“There are vehicles that carry dangerous fuel oil, as in this case in Morogoro, there are others that carry toxic chemicals or explosives, let’s stop this practice, please,” Magufuli said. Last month, 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people tried to take the fuel.

Among the deadliest such disasters, 292 people lost their lives in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2010, and in September 2015 at least 203 people died the South Sudan town of Maridi.

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