What you need to know:
- Traders accuse Nema of unfairly targeting them instead of going for producers of the banned bags.
- On August 29, 2017, Kenya banned single-use plastic bags and flat bags and imposed jail terms of up to four years and fines of Sh4 million for those in breach.
The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) has arrested 15 people in Nyeri for flouting various environmental regulations including use of banned plastic bags and inappropriate effluent discharge.
The offenders including small scale traders and hotel owners were arrested following a crackdown mounted by the authority within the county in the last one week.
In some instance, dramatic scenes were witnessed as some culprits tried to resist arrest especially in open air markets.
Nema director in Nyeri Ms Nancy Mui said the campaign is aimed at ensuring that use of plastic carrier bags, that is slowly creeping back, is completely wiped out as well as ensure compliance to proper waste disposal by facilities such as hotels, petrol stations, industries and residential premises.
“We have noted that plastic bags are slowly re-emerging in the markets,” said Ms Mui as she announced a one-week amnesty for the culprits to declare and surrender them.
“If you fail to declare or surrender the plastic bags within one week we will arrest and prosecute you,” warned the director, saying no one would be spared from suppliers to the end users.
As per the plastic ban regulation that came into effect on August 28, 2017, anyone found producing, selling or using plastic bags is liable to a fine up to Sh. 4 million or a jail term of four years.
She continued that the hunt down is also targeting facilities discharging effluent into the environment with no connection to the sewer system, cesspool or having no efficient treatment system.
“We are arresting those who have not complied with effluent discharge as well as checking on those who have complied to ensure the set conditions are met,” said Ms Mui.
She said those facilities lacking effluent discharge licenses risk prosecution and closure of their businesses.
The authority is also targeting houses built on wetlands as owners are asked to produce land ownership documents to certify their authenticity.