Plastic barrels that are often used to store water have been banned by the government in the northern Somali state of Puntland.
Puntland state’s ministry of health proposed the ban saying the barrels pose a danger to people and animals, as some of the containers had stored chemicals before being used for water.
“These plastic barrels are used to store chemicals and for other uses, and then traders sell them to the people. The people are using these containers when they have not been properly cleaned or while there are still chemicals inside,” said Puntland deputy health minister, Abdinasir Yusuf Haji.
A presidential decree issued on 31 October stated that the plastic barrels must not be sold and cannot be used for storage of drinking water.
Plastic barrels are imported from Gulf countries, some containing products such as shampoos and other cosmetics, and others empty for various local uses.
Abdi Noor Sheikh Ahmed, a businessman in Garowe, said the ban would cause problems and the government had not proposed any safe alternative containers for water. Puntland has no local manufacturing capacity to make its own containers.
“ Those who will be most affected are the nomadic people, who use these plastic barrels. The traders will also be affected,” he said. “The public and the government have the same interest. But we have no factories and they have not brought anything in to replace these barrels. I myself use the barrels for transporting fuel.”
The government banned the use of plastic bags in 2016 but the ban has not been effectively implemented. However, Abdinasir Yusuf Haji said the government was committed to ensuring that this new law was followed.
“The government is committed to implement the ban of anything that can cause a risk to people and is subject to the law. People can use any other means of conserving water, like metal containers, any alternative that is not a health hazard. They can also use our traditional methods.”
He said legal measures would be taken against those importing plastic barrels, which would be impounded and burnt.