The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) has put on hold their planned implementation of a requirement by all vehicles to have dustbins.
NEMA took the decision not to proceed with the enforcement following a meeting they had at their offices with the leadership of the public transportation operators.
The Authority had announced on March 16th that it was to start carrying out traffic stops and penalizing drivers of both private and public transport vehicles who would be found without trashcans in their vehicles.
This, they said, was meant to stem the vice of littering by drivers and passengers.
The announcement was met with mixed views from the public, with some accusing the body of overstepping its mandate.
Yesterday, the Uganda Law Society (ULS) challenged this move on grounds that it is not rooted in any law.
ULS President Bernard Oundo in a letter to the NEMA Executive Director, questioned which law was based on to prescribe as an offence, the lack of a dustbin in a vehicle.
“The constitution provides that every offense be defined and a penalty provided by law,” noted Oundo.
“While your press statement dwells at length on the alleged penalty, the statement says nothing on the law creating the offence of motorists not carrying dustbins. Your claim that carrying a dustbin is in fulfilment of a motorist’s responsibility for waste management in a vehicle does not address the issue.”
Speaking to the press this afternoon, Tony Achidria, the NEMA spokesperson revealed that a decision had been taken today to suspend the implementation for one month.
This his said, was on the request of the taxi, bus and coaster operators who pleaded for more time to carry out more sensitization among themselves.
“They have requested for an extension of that particular requirement to allow them to first of all consult with their MPs about the law, and then to allow time for sensitization. They are going to spearhead the sensitization within themselves because they are concerned that if a passengers litters, they will be the ones to pay the price. So, we gave them one month,” he said.
Mr Achidria further clarified that NEMA never intended to enforce the dustbin requirement as a criminal offence as ULS and other Ugandans through, but was brought was a suggestion.
“The issue of not having a dustbin is not an offense in itself, the offense is littering,” he said.
“We brought this up along with other guidelines on noise pollution, backfilling of wetlands and others, but this one seems to have come out most.
“But it was brought as a proposal for public means. What we are saying is that in order to prevent that (littering) behavior, we are encouraging the drivers to have where passengers can put their rubbish.”
Ochidria said they will be making these clarifications to ULS and the pjublic soon.