Eight people have been arrested in Kisumu following a sting operation conducted by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to crackdown on banned single-use plastic bags.
The NEMA enforcement officers raided Ahero market in Nyando Sub-County where six retail traders and two stockists of the outlawed bags were arrested.
The operation spearheaded by officials from the Environmental Management Inspectorate (EMI) and officials from Kisumu, Homa Bay, Vihiga and Kakamega counties also checked on water quality at various entities emitting effluents into water bodies in the area.
Moses Ombogo, NEMA Enforcement Officer who spearheaded the exercise said the operation targets to wipe out the single use plastic bags which are slowly re-emerging on the shelves.
Ombogo noted that the products, believed to be finding their way into the country illegally through the porous borders of Kenya and Uganda, have continued to pose a threat to the environment more than five years after they were banned.
“The message we are telling the public is that this ban has been in force since 2017. Kenya is a plastic free country and we are asking members of the public to desist from their use,” he reiterated.
Those contravening the regulations, he said, risked a fine of Sh. 2 million, two years in jail or both as NEMA moves to enforce the ban.
He asked traders to shift to eco-friendly bags which are available to package their goods and products.
“Looking at the arrests we have made, most of the traders were using single-use plastic bags to package rice and sugar. We are advising them to use Uhuru bags which are eco-friendly and readily available,” he said.
NEMA, working with other government departments, he added, has intensified patrols along the porous border of Kenya and Uganda to ensure that the products don’t get into the country.
“We don’t have any company manufacturing these bags in the country. We are working with other agencies to ensure that they don’t get into the country,” he said.
By Chris Mahandara