Small-scale traders and vegetable vendors in Kitui’s Kalundu market are engaged in a cat and mouse game with officials from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) over the use of banned plastic bags.
The traders, who are engaged in the black market selling the banned plastic bags, are way ahead of the NEMA enforcement officers because they sell their illegal products at the wee hours of the morning and at night to escape arrest.
While speaking to Kenya News Agency on Wednesday on condition of anonymity, the traders said that the thriving black market of banned plastic bags which are found in plenty in Kitui is fueled by the corrupt system.
A trader, Japheth Mumo, said that NEMA should crack the whip by ensuring the bulk plastic traders were arrested to stem the vice, since the vendors could not resist the cheap plastic bags that are consistently on supply in the market.
“NEMA should fry the big fish engaged in the vice. Coming to the small fish will not diminish the flourishing trade across the borders,” said a visibly angry Mumo.
He condemned NEMA enforcement officials over arresting vegetable vendors in the market found in possession of the banned plastic bags at the expense of the tycoons engaged in the vice with impunity.
“I do not have the capacity to import or manufacture plastic bags. I do not have the financial muscle to supply the illicit products. Those engaged in the black trade are being shielded by corrupt officials within the system,” added Mumo.
In a swift rejoinder, Kitui County NEMA Coordinator, Godfrey Wafula reiterated the agency’s resolve to ensure the country is a plastic free zone.
Wafula said that the country banned the use and manufacture of plastics due to their negative impact on the environment that outweighed the positive effects.
“They cause environmental pollution through littering since they are non-biodegradable. When disposing them, many people usually burn them, they subsequently emit smoke and radiations that bring about global warming,” said the NEMA official.
On dumping, Wafula said that plastics have continued to clog the drainage systems which lead to poor drainage and floods during the rainy seasons.
The Environmental official insisted on the use of woven bags and viondo that are affordable and safer compared to plastic bags according to their chemical composition.
By Susan Munini/Maina Njuguna