Officials shield makers of banned plastic carrier bags

Vendors sell eco-friendly carrier bags at Nakuru’s Wakulima Market. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Vendors sell eco-friendly carrier bags at Nakuru’s Wakulima Market. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A State body that investigates complaints on environment matters has revealed that cartels of public officials are conspiring with manufacturers to produce banned plastic carrier bags.

The National Environmental Complaints Committee (NECC) says the manufacture of plastic bags by unregulated firms is continuing, more three months after the ban of the products.

The underground manufacturers are mainly based in Nairobi’s Industrial area, Mlolongo and Thika, and they are feeding traders who are using plastic bags for packaging.

“Most of these banned plastic carriers are sold in backstreet markets and those who deal in the them have the blessings and protection of influential but dishonest government officials,” said John Chumo, the committee’s secretary.


Public interest

The committee is charged with investigating complaints regarding the condition of the environment and undertakes public interest litigation on behalf of the citizens in environmental matters.

Ban on plastic carrier bags came into force on August 28, which means that anyone found selling, manufacturing or carrying them could face fines of up to Sh4 million or prison sentences of up to four years.

The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) say it will intensify surveillance following information on increased activities by illegal plastic bag manufacturers.

Sources indicate that nearly 20 plastic bag makers are operating illegally in Nairobi, highlighting the weakness of implementing the ban as traders continue to defy the directive.

Sh100,000 fine

On Thursday, an illegal manufacturer was fined Sh100,000 after he pleaded guilty of producing the carrier bags.

Experts say the fine is not a deterrent to those profiting from the ban.

Manufacturers who use polythene to wrap products are exempted from the ban.

Industrialists lobby, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), says the ban will cost 60,000 jobs and force 176 manufacturers to close.

Kenya was also a major exporter of plastic bags in East Africa