The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) on Wednesday, May 10, launched a countrywide crackdown targeting businessmen and other Kenyans using banned plastic bags.
The operation was launched after it was established that Kenyans had devised new ways to beat the system to allow the circulation of banned plastic bags.
NEMA Regional Director for Rift Valley Njoki Mukiri indicated that some businesses had found a way of acquiring plastic bags which the authority had outlawed.
She explained that the seized bags had been printed and already in circulation, beating different systems put in place.
“We have already arrested about four people mainly from bakeries because we found that they are using these bags that are printed but are not cleared by NEMA. We have realised that they have been issued with clearance but are not adhering to the conditions that were issued and that is why we have arrested them and we are going to arraign them in the court of law,” Mukiri stated.
Besides printing bags without adhering to the due process, NEMA indicated that some traders were using porous border points to import banned plastic bags in the country.
"We want to ensure that we sustain this kind of inspections because we have realised that we still have very porous borders around, like Eldoret which is not very far from the Uganda border and therefore these papers can easily be brought in,” she disclosed.
“We want to embrace a multi-agency approach and work with other bodies because these bags are coming in from neighbouring countries,” she added.
Following the revelations, NEMA indicated that businessmen and other Kenyans found with the prohibited bags would face a fine of up to Ksh2 million.
Defending the move, NEMA bosses argued that plastic bags which were banned in 2017, had contributed to environmental pollution.
“It is either Ksh2 million or one year in prison that is the penalty. Whether we get you with one polythene bag with no licence, that is the punishment, we don’t have categories of the penalties for manufacturers or users,” Uasin Gishu County NEMA Director of Environment Solomon Kihiu announced.
“We are warning the users of those plastic bags, we are telling all of them we have a lot of alternatives in the market and we want them to adhere to that,” he added.