The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) on Wednesday, February 10, arrested over 30 traders from Embakasi for using plastic bags despite being burned over 3 years ago.
The arrests were part of the renewed crackdown targeting Nairobi traders who NEMA says have found a loophole of importing the bags into the country.
"The Authority has launched a new wave of surveillance to mop out plastic bags across the country and apprehend individuals using, manufacturing and importing the banned bags," The Authority said.
NEMA also said that those found guilty will be arrested and fined Ksh 2 to 4 million or serve 1 to 4 years in jail, or both.
The crack down is expected to take part in most estates in Nairobi which NEMA has identified as hotspots for plastic bag usage.
However, Kenyans reacting to today's arrests were not so pleased with the body mandated with safeguarding the environment.
One Giitwa Gichuki called out NEMA saying they should stop harassing poor traders over what he termed as public stunts.
“This is too low! Stop harrassing poor mama mbogas na watu wa vibanda as you execute your PR stunts! #PlasticPollution threat must be addressed in a sober & SUSTAINABLE manner. First, track and nail the barons who imports/manufacture the illegal plastics,” Guchuki said.
The government had reported that since the ban was implemented, almost 80% of the population had stopped using plastic carrier bags, but noted that there was mismatch in the strategy that needed adjustments.
2 years into the ban, Nema reported that they had made over 500 arrests and 300 prosecutions. Those found culpable were fined between Ksh 50,000 and Ksh 150,000 with some getting jail terms not less than 6 months jailed.
Traders in Nairobi adjusted to the ban by swapping it out with cheap cartons, paper bags and envelopes.
Grocery stores opted to sell out reusable fiber bags and cardboard boxes to ease the burden of carrying products.
The good news is that Kenya’s ban has helped clean-up the environment with waterways becoming clearer and less contaminated.
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