Business as usual as butchers, abattoirs in Uganda defy ban on plastic bags

plastic bags ban

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Butchers, abattoirs continue packing meat in polythene bags despite a ban by the government.

In March this year, the State Minister for Animal Industry, Bright Rwamirama directed butchers to stop packaging beef in polythene bags, a decision aimed at minimizing contact between the buyer and the seller as part of the measures to stop the spread of coronavirus disease. He instead advised their customers to carry along containers.

But our reporters visited butcheries and abattoirs around Kampala and established that the ban is yet to take effect yet there is no enforcement to stop those who are not following the minister’s directives.

Umar Magino, a butcher at Kalerwe said they are still using polythene bags because that is what is known to them.

Muhammad Nsubuga, a leader and meat dealer in city abattoir said they cannot force customers to abide by the guidelines or stop the sale of meat.

Sulaiman Ssekannyo, the chairperson Nsoba abattoir at Kalerwe said the problem of polythene bag is mostly with retail butchers because at the abattoir they majorly sell in large quantities and pack in boxes.

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He, however questioned how the ban on polythene bags can be enforced yet it is still on the market.

Apart from banning polythene bags, the government also directed the butchers to wear personal protective gear including a gown, white boots, gloves and masks. They were also directed to wash hands before and after handling meat.

A number of butchers have complied with the directive but are still failing at wearing masks and washing hands regularly. They say while they understand the relevance of masks, they are still getting used to it. Others cite underlying health conditions like asthma which they say impede them from using masks all the time.

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Ssekannyo also says that since many of the measures are not strange to their profession, they haven’t met a lot of resistance enforcing them except for the two aspects.

Some of the meat consumers interviewed by our reporter said it is hard to carry their own containers to the butchery. They say they make shopping as they retire from work which means that they would have to carry containers to work if they were to comply with the directive.

Uganda has a total of 264 confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 65 recoveries.