By Umaru Kashaka
THE Parliamentary committee on budgeting has asked Government to uphold the ban on the importation of used computers to stop the country from being used as a dumping ground.
The MPs on Thursday noted that its earlier recommendation on used computers had not been adhered to and they are still being imported, packaged and disguised as new ones in order to exploit the unsuspecting consumers.
They fear that as an environmental policy to handle electronic waste is put in place, Uganda’s ban on used computers may soon be declared over after more than three years.
“With the evolution of technology, importing second hand computers only serves the purpose of making Uganda a dumping ground,” said the Bunya County West MP, Vincent Bagiire.
Legislators also stressed that since technology is fast changing to mobile handsets and second hand computers will only be a serious environmental hazard to the country.
“We have a duty to protect our environment and we cannot relax on this front. Let’s maintain the ban to safeguard our environment or else we shall pay a heavy price in the near future,” the Agago County MP Amos Okot warned.
However, other MPs like Hassan Fungaroo (Obongi County) and Florence Namayanja (Bukoto East) are of the opinion that the Government is better off creating an e-waste facility similar to the one in Kenya, rather than banning used computers altogether.
“We still need them because not many Ugandans can afford brand new computers. May be let’s limit the age and say if they are more than fifteen years old they shouldn’t be imported and also issue tough penalties on them,” Fungaroo suggested.
Announced in the 2009/2010 budget, the ban on used computers was meant to combat electronic pollution and dumping but it was also done at a time when dumping was at its peak.
Leonah Mbonimpa, the NITA-U spokesperson said in light of the concerns (for banning and lifting the ban) they are conducting a comprehensive impact assessment survey on the ban.
She said the output and recommendations from this study shall guide policy as well as decision makers on whether to lift or to maintain the ban.
“The study is also aimed at coming-up with recommendations of best practices in the management of e-waste in the Country, whether the ban is lifted or maintained in line with the Electronic Waste Management Policy for Uganda 2012,” she told New Vision.
NITA-U had also indicated that it would provide standards of used computers that can be imported into Uganda.
It reportedly said the standards will spell out the year of manufacture, the type of technology used, inputs like Bluetooth, wireless; but importers would also have to show how they will dispose of any generated e-waste.