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Two arrested over possession of plastic bags

Two  businessmen have been arrested in Tharaka Nithi County for being in possession of plastic bags more than two years after their ban in a gazette notice of 2007.

Riley  Gatiiria and Justin Kirimi  were arrested in a crackdown by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) with the aid of police officers in Chuka town and Kibugua Market respectively.

Ms. Gatiria was found in possession of 100 plastic bags at her retail shop in Chuka town while Kirimi was found 10, 000 bags at Kibugua Market in an impromptu crackdown conducted by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) with the aid of police officers.

The crackdown was organized a day after a similar exercise was carried out in the neighbouring Meru County Monday and more so after intelligence information revealed that some unscrupulous businessmen men were bringing back the environmental menace into the country.

Confirming the incident, Tharaka Nithi County Director of Environment, Joseph Kamau said the two have been booked at the Chuka Police Station and would be taken to court today

“We  cannot  sit  back and watch as unscrupulous people divert us from the gains on environment conservation made since the ban on the plastic bags two years ago,” said the Director adding that the NEMA is also longing to enforce the recent ban on single use of plastic bottles by President Uhuru Kenyatta once its deadline comes.

Kamau said that the crackdown would go on till they exhaust all polythene bags to ensure that the plastic bags do not successfully resurface in order to give all people a conducive environment to operate and live in.

The  plastic bag ban  was placed in an Environment Gazette Notice of 2007 under the patronage of the then National Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Prof. Judy  Wakhungu.

The  Gazette notice that was described as draconian by many who were opposed to it banned the use, manufacture and sale of environmentally harmful plastics, polythene bags and packaging materials.

The  ban came in August 2017 threatening up to four years imprisonment or fines of $40,000/£31,000 for anyone found producing, selling or even just carrying a plastic bag.

Thereafter, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a ban on single-use plastics in beaches, national parks, forests and conservation areas.

While  addressing the opening plenary of Day 3 of the Women Deliver 2019 Conference, in Vancouver Canada, Uhuru said that the ban would take effect on June 5, 2020.

In  effect, this means Kenyans going to the beaches or national parks are banned from carrying water bottles, plastic plates, plastic cups as  well as plastic spoons and forks.

The  Water bottles are seen as a major nuisance for the environment in Kenya with many littering rivers, the Indian ocean, forests and even drainages.

The plastic menace was discussed during the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 2) held in Nairobi between May 23 to 27, 2016 in which the world’s environment ministers gathered at the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly and passed far-reaching resolutions.

By  Nicholus  Mwai/ David  Mutwiri

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