There are heaps of garbage on our highways, most containing toxic materials, currently posing serious hazards to wildlife in Arusha and Manyara Regions.
Road sections passing through Wildlife Precincts along Arusha-Dodoma highway as well as Minjingu to Karatu stretch are experiencing mounds of piling up trash and debrise littering the area.
Much of the garbage usually gets thrown from passenger vehicles, especially long-distance buses but also commuter vans using the routes and the trash is already affecting wildlife.
Fidelis Ole Kashe is the Conservancy Manager at the Manyara Ranch.
The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) managed, vast estate combines controlled livestock farming and wildlife conservation. He says highway trash littering is their current headache.
“We do conduct cleaning exercises every month and usually collect between 7 and 10 tons of garbage along the highways,” reveals Ole Kashe.
Manyara Ranch, the adjacent Lake Manyara National Park, Kwakuchinja and Mswakini Wildlife Corridors are among the precincts susceptible to highway trash deposits.
Speaking to Members of the Journalists’ Environmental Association of Tanzania (JET), during their special mission to the wildlife precincts, Ole Kashe said the ranch is taking moral responsibility to clean the highways as environment protection initatives.
But local tour operators in Arusha Region have also been undertaking the exercise to clean up the roads.
As it happens, large commercial vehicles, especially passenger buses, are responsible for toxic materials and other mounds of garbage found scattered around wildlife precincts such as parks and corridors.
At least 10 tons of garbage, most being toxic waste, get collected along the roads that pass through Northern Wildlife Corridors.
A few years ago, members of staff from Tanzania Private Select Safaris and Savanna Bush Camp and Sandra Vaughan from ‘This & That,’ embarked onto clean-up campaigns along the roads cutting through wildlife corridors.
The teams collected the garbage that was scattered along the stretch of road from the Makuyuni Junction all the way to Mto-wa-Mbu Township.
On average they picked 80 Kilograms of waste Per Kilometer along 35 Kilometers’ section.
That added to nearly 3 tons of mostly plastic waste collected between Mto-wa-Mbu and Makuyuni alone.
The Land Transport Regulatory Authority ( LATRA), directs that each passenger bus must place trash bins along the aisles in which people should deposit garbage.
However, only a few, mostly semi-luxury buses adhere to the requirement. This is also because many of the high-end coaches feature sealed windows that don’t open to let things in or out, being fully air-conditioned.
But for older clunkers, passengers are free to yank windows open and throw anything out.
The littering usually starts at Makuyuni junction, where passengers get to buy drinks, food, snacks and other basin needs for their journeys.
Investigations conducted by the Tanzania Times, reveal that as many buses, heading to Mwanza, Dodoma, Singida or Musoma leave Arusha very early in the morning, passengers don’t have time to take their breakfast.
Makuyuni, located 100 kilometers from Arusha, is always the first stop-over point where people starts tucking in as far as meals are concerned.
But with limited time, passengers simply carry takeaways, whose packages get strewn all over the place as buses resume journeys.
Portable items include drink and food containers in form of plastic plates and glass bottles, aluminium foils, tin cans, polythene bags, plastic cups, plastic spoons, wipes and napkins.
Disposable baby wraps, discarded newspapers, polythene bags and cigarettes buts also add to the mounds of garbage piling up along the roads into wildlife precincts.
Special thanks to the USAID ‘Tuhifadhi Maliasili’ (Preserve Natural Resources) Project