This question was answered by the Director of Environment Division at the Vice Presidents Office during a discussion with LHRC officials including the current and former YET. The LHRC members were majorly concerned by the increasing destruction of the environment by the investors.
According to director it’s known that most investors are not doing Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as per the laws but it has been difficult to take any legal action against them due to lack of environmental regulations. The Acts prohibits certain activities but it’s the regulations which should state how violations of the stated rights should be dealt with legally. The regulations are not there since there are no enough funds needed. To the date of the meeting there were 15 regulations made though not in use, they are yet to be out.
In addition, Tanzania Investment Center (TIC) registers and directs the investors (investors have being identified as the major environmental polluters) on the procedure to be followed. They direct the investors to the specific sectors in order to get permission to start their projects but investors sometimes start the projects without the sectors permission. This is mostly common when the project requires permission of two or more sectors in order for it to be implemented. The most affected sectors by this include; natural resource and tourism, mining and environment.
Then, investors should at least be directed to the council but sometimes the projects are started even without the knowledge of the councilors. When the councilors are aware it’s when the investors go to the council with a lot of pledges to an extent the councilors agree to forgo the risks involved in order to get the promised pledges bearing in mind as political leader they would like the people to see that they have brought development in the community without sometimes being concerned of the risks involved in doing so. In addition sometimes even the councilors fear to reject the investor’s requests especially if the other sectors have accepted them and thus they agree even after knowing the decision may negatively affect the people.
Plus, most of the investors are so rich they can thus buy their way around so many things including the laws. Money attracts even the leaders of the area, who do not only end up agreeing to the investors requests but also ended up supporting the investors even at the expense of their people. The environment director or any other person who tends to go against their agreement with the investor is seen as a block to their success and a plan may be devised to silence him.
Inspite of all the reasons given its still believed that our environment can be preserved. It’s the duty that you, I and all the people have being given to us by the Environmental Management Act of 2004. TOGETHER WE CAN PROTECT OUR ENVIRONMENT!
Written by KOKUSHUBILA KABANZA-YET 2011