Plastic bags banned from national parks

22 Nov 2018 19:00pm
WINDHOEK, 22 NOV (NAMPA) – Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta on Thursday announced the official banning of plastic bags from all national parks in the country.
Announcing the new regulation at a media briefing in the capital, Shifeta explained the amended guidelines, saying that no person shall enter a game park or nature reserve with a plastic bag.
The minister however noted that the amendment makes provision for exceptions on plastic bags designed for the disposal of waste; agricultural purposes; sampling; analysis and packaging of goods.
“A person who contravenes this ban is liable to a fine not exceeding N.dollars 500 or to imprisonment not exceeding six months,” he said, emphasising that the increasing volumes of tourists Namibia is experiencing is proportional to the amount of increased waste being generated, a situation that poses a threat to the ecological integrity of national parks.
He further noted that the ministry is aware of the limited awareness of compliance with the amended regulation and that stakeholders are therefore encouraged to display the rule at all the necessary entry points such as parks, airports, border posts and shopping centres.
“Let us not embarrass our visitors through limited awareness on the regulations. Therefore it is important that the message is conveyed appropriately,” he said.
Shifeta mentioned that the ministry is in the process of developing signage that will be placed at the entrance points of all protected areas informing visitors of the new regulations.
The minister also used the platform to raise concern over the increasing number of dumping sites being created by national park employees, explaining that it leads to the degradation of these parks.
“We must not degrade our national parks by creating illegal dumping sites, it is an unacceptable situation,” he stressed, singling out Namutoni and Okaukuejo in the Etosha National Park as some of the places where illegal dumping areas have been created.
“Staff members are at times so clever that they shade these dumping sites during ministerial visits,” he noted.
Shifeta said a directive was given to the director of parks to inform staff members nationally to remove illegal dumping sites by the end of December this year and that failure to do so may translate in the termination of staff members’ accommodation at the parks.
“Those who live in the parks stay there on the merit of the permission of the ministry. Therefore if staff members are not compatible to the park rules, I have the power remove them from the parks,” he noted.