NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 13 – The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has revealed that several arrests have been made since the introduction of the plastic ban in the country.
The ban on the use, manufacture and importation of plastic bags was announced by the Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu on February 28 this year.
Speaking during a press conference on Friday, the Authority’s Director General Geoffrey Wahungu said the ban on the plastic bag albeit receiving a hostile reception from a section of members of the public and the manufacturers, the environment management body has been able to conduct successive arrests in different parts of the country.
“Two days ago we arrested 12 people in Bomet, 11 in Mombasa, 3 people in Embu. People have also been in Marsabit and in Nairobi we did manage to arrest a manufacturer who was manufacturing flat bags at 3am in the morning. Our officers have arrested many individuals and cautioned them to comply with the ban,” said Wahungu.
Wahungu noted that undercover officers have been deployed across all the 47 counties to nab individuals who continue to defy the directive regarding the use of the plastic bags.
“The next customer in your shop could be a NEMA inspector and therefore it is not today your day is coming very soon. Please avoid this kind of confrontations and support us the way other citizens are supporting us and we are going to enjoy a cleaner and healthy environment,” said Wahungu.
After the ban on the plastic bags as announced it was suspended for six months to allow Kenyan consumers and shopkeepers to adjust to the new rules even so the ban still caught most traders unawares despite the notice.
During the briefing, Wahungu said that the awareness period was over and expects Kenyans to fully embrace the use of other forms of carrier bags.
He further urged everyone to adhere to the regulations as they seek to ensure the existence of a clean environment for all.
“Going forward we expect every Kenyan to abide by the ban on the use of plastic bags. The six months awareness period ends today and we have started the period of compliance,” said Wahungu.
He pointed out that surveillance has been heightened at all points of entry including airports, and border points.
According to the penalty on the ban anyone flouting the ban risks a fine of Sh2 million to Sh4 million or a jail term of one to two years or both but Wahungu indicated that they will be applying the principle of proportionality when discharging
“A manufacturer and a ‘mama mboga’ caught violating the ban will not be charged the same. Different penalties will be applied to different individuals,” said Wahungu.
Wahungu maintained that the exemption of domestic paper bags and disposal bags used in the handling of biomedical hazardous waste is still intact.
“We are on a transition period and we are working with manufacturers to ensure that the exempted bags are labeled,” said Wahungu.
According to the government, the bags harm the environment, block sewers and most importantly the plastic bags do not decompose.