Uasin Gishu MCAs pass law forcing supermarkets to offer shoppers free carrier bags


A hawker sells biodegradable shopping bags at the Nyeri matatu terminus, August 28, 2017. Uasin Gishu MCAs have passed a law to force supermarkets to give free alternative carrier bags after the plastics ban. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

Uasin Gishu MCAs have passed a motion to force supermarkets in the county to provide alternative free carrier bags following the ban on plastic bags.

While moving the motion on Wednesday, nominated Member of County Assembly Catherine Barmao said that after the ban three months ago, supermarkets had forced customers to buy alternative carriers instead of providing them.

"Following the ban on plastic bags, supermarket attendants have made a habit of mixing all manner of goods into one bag unlike the past where foodstuff and detergents were separated. This is unhygienic and unacceptable," said Dr Barmao.

The ban on plastic carrier bags came into force on August 28.

While seconding the motion, Ng'enyilel MCA David Sing'oei said that the ban on plastic bags should not be used by supermarkets as an excuse to mistreat customers.

“You all remember so well that plastic bags were costly even before this ban yet our supermarkets could generously afford them and even branded them.

"Right now those supermarket attendants boldly throw in everything into one bag. This is unacceptable,” said Mr Sing’oei.

READ: Uhuru urges other countries to also ban plastic bags

Buy bags

When the floor was opened for debate, the majority of the MCA's supported the motion while questioning the reason behind supermarkets forcing customers to buy their own bags.

"Some of the plastic bags that were given for free to customers were even more expensive compared to the current bags which customers are now forced to carry or buy and this is why we need to stop this culture before it gets out of hand," said Tembelio MCA Pius Kigen.

Majority Leader Josphat Lowoi accused the supermarkets of putting lives of Kenyans at risk by stuffing different goods in one carrier bag.

"Supermarkets should not take advantage of ban on plastic bags and punish locals. Our people should not continue suffering and being subjected to unhygienic and dangerous health risks.

"The implementation committee need to follow up on this motion and ensure that our county executive arm implements it fully as soon as possible," said Mr Lowoi, the Karuna/ Meibeki representative.

READ: Uhuru urges other countries to also ban plastic bags

Opposed motion

However, two MCAs Sarah Malel (Kimumu) and David Keitany (Sergoit) opposed the motion saying it was meant to hurt the supermarket business in the county.

"All we need to do first is carry out a comprehensive market survey with a view of determining the real facts before victimising supermarkets for not giving free bags.

"They must be having a reason why they ask customers to buy carrier bags or have their own," said Mr Malel.

"It is my humble request to this House that you give us ample time to look at the facts and see how we can assist both the locals and businesses over this issue," said Mr Keitany who is also the Assembly's Trade committee chairman.

When the question was put before the MCA's, the majority supported the motion which will now be forwarded to the executive arm of county government for implementation.