Tonga To Institute Fines For Littering Starting In April

Fines as high as $875 to encourage people, companies to keep country clean

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, March 30, 2017) – Tonga is getting serious about keeping public places clean as people and companies caught littering or disposing of waste illegally will be fined starting this Saturday, 1 April throughout the whole of Tonga.

Fines will range from $20 [US$8.75] per infringement to $2,000 [US$875], depending on the severity of the disposal and on the spot fines may also be issued.

People have been disposing of rubbish such as dirty nappies, plastic wrappers, and empty cans on streets, beaches, bush land, swampy areas and in drains. Larger goods such as refrigerators, computers and vehicles are also left lying around in public areas.

At a press conference yesterday, the Prime Minister, ‘Akilisi Pohiva confirmed that the litter enforcement will be effective for ‘Eua, Tongatapu, Ha’apai, Vava’u and the Niuas.

 He said that to enforce the litter law for all of Tonga means all the islands besides Tongatapu should have a rubbish dump or a rubbish truck service as an alternative for residents to be able to dispose of rubbish legally. If rubbish services are not available as an alternative for people, they will continue to litter outside their homes.

Whether the smaller islands have such services remains to be confirmed.

Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Siaosi Sovaleni added that the Tongan government was enforcing the litter fines not to make money but as a way to encourage people to keep Tonga clean.

Last year, the Environment Management (Litter and Waste Control) Regulation was enacted meaning Tonga has finally recognized litter as a big problem that not only affects the reputation of Tonga, but is also a hazard, polluting our public areas, our water and affecting health.

The Ministry of MEIDECC awareness programmes to stop littering have been running since the enactment of the regulation. The Department of Environment said that the enforcement would also see the continuation of the awareness programme on a one to one basis with those caught in the act of littering or disposing of waste illegally.

Enforcement officers include town officers, staff from the Department of Environment, the Tonga Police Force, Waste Authority and the Ministry of Health.

The challenge will be ensuring enforcement is properly implemented at all times in order to be effective in changing the public perception of littering.

Matangi Tonga Magazine
Copyright © 2017 Matangi Tonga. All Rights Reserved

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