Uganda's plastic bags headache for Kenya

Wednesday January 10 2018

Hawkers at Wakulima Market in Nakuru County sell reusable eco-friendly carrier bags on August, 27, 2017, a day before the ban on plastic bags took effect. PHOTO | AYUB MUIYURO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Hawkers at Wakulima Market in Nakuru County sell reusable eco-friendly carrier bags on August, 27, 2017, a day before the ban on plastic bags took effect. PHOTO | AYUB MUIYURO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MAGDALENE WANJA
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Kenya has cited plastics bags from neighbouring countries a challenge in the eradication of the polythene bags in its territory.

The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) said the bags are finding their into major towns from countries in the region that are manufacturing them.

“We have information that some business operators are still getting the commodity in bulks from the neighbouring countries mainly Uganda despite the ban that took effect in August 2017,” Nema’s chief enforcement officer Mr Robert Orina said.

He noted that the main target of the illegal business were street vendors who sell goods in small portions like vegetables and snacks along the major highways.

“The small bags are in circulation as a black market and are usually in display during the odd hours,” he added.

Mr Orina was speaking in Nakuru town where he led a team of Nema officials in a crackdown against the illegal businesses. Nakuru is the fourth largest town in Kenya and is located more than 280km from the Malaba and Busia borders with Uganda.

Clampdown

Nema said the clampdown followed a tip-off on traders importing the plastic bags from Uganda and supplying them in the town.

“Operators of the businesses are using motorbikes to circulate the product. We shall keep vigilance and ensure that the illegal business comes to an end,” said Mr Orina.

Nakuru County's director of environment natural resources and energy, Mureithi Kiogora, said his office is working closely with Nema to ensure they achieve the objective.

“Apart from the small-scale traders who are still packing their products in the plastic bags, the level of compliance in Nakuru is encouraging,” noted Mr Kiogora.

Kenya outlawed the manufacture, import, sale or use of plastic carrier bags in the country with effect from August 28, 2017.

Uganda is said to be also considering an amendment to its 2009 law to effect total ban on plastic bags.

Last June, the East African Legislative Assembly passed the EAC Polythene Materials Control Bill 2016 that seeks to impose a complete ban on the use, manufacture and importation of plastic bags in the East African Community after stagnating for five years.