NEMA Raises Alarm on Return of Plastic Bags

  • National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) has reported that 80 percent of banned plastic bags are still finding their way into the Kenyan market despite being banned in August 2017.

    It is believed that the contraband carrier bags find their way in through neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda who are yet to successfully ban the usage in their respective countries.

    Nema Director-General Geoffrey Wahungu bemoaned an 85 percent success rate, citing challenges posed by Ugandan traders who smuggle 80 percent of the bags through porous borders.

    “The fact that the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) passed the Plastics Materials Control and Management Bill earlier than we did our ban hasn’t helped much because Tanzania and Uganda have not effected that legal provision,” Wakhungu noted.

    Use of the banned bags is most prevalent in Nairobi, Eldoret and major towns in Rift Valley and Western Kenya, with reports claiming that they are supplied to specific loyal customers by organised cartels.

    It is rumoured that the cartels involved carry on with this trade as they enjoy state protection by corrupt government officials.

    “Plastic carriers are imported alongside biodegradable ones and second-hand clothes and are supplied to clients at odd hours,” revealed a trader in Eldoret.

    Most users of the bags are fruit, vegetable and snack traders along boda-boda operators who are said to use them to transport goods to their customers.

    The ban on the plastic bags was issued by the government on March 15, 2017, with the deadline lapsing six months later on August 28, 2017.

    Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mauritania and Malawi are among countries that have announced such bans.