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NEMA intensifies crackdown on single-use plastic bags

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has intensified a crackdown on single use plastic bags in Nyanza region following the resurgence of the banned products.

Three people were arrested over the weekend after they were found in possession of the products during a swoop by NEMA officials in Kisumu.

The operation led by NEMA Senior Principal Officer Titus Simiyu targeted retailers and traders using plastic bags to package goods, five years after the ban.

Simiyu said the traders were using bodaboda riders to sell and distribute the bags making it difficult to track them.

“The operation targeted distributors who are behind the illegal trade but because of these tricks we have not been able to nab them. However the three suspects are being processed and will be arraigned in court and charged,” he said.

He observed the bags gain entry into the lakeside city of Kisumu through the porous borders of Kenya-Uganda and Kenya-Tanzania since the two neighboring countries are yet to enforce a ban on the products.

NEMA, he added, has deployed a multi-agency approach in collaboration with security agencies to tame the rampant practice.

The crackdown also targeted various establishments to ensure they comply with NEMA’s effluent discharge regulations.

NEMA officials inspected hotels, petrol stations, hospitals and markets to make certain that the wastewater discharged from the facilities met the NEMA set standards before being issued with Effluent Discharge License (EDL).

Simiyu asked proprietors of the various facilities to comply with the regulations and acquire EDL to continue operating.

NEMA Western Region Director Stella Kamwasi said most of the industries in the area had complied with the effluent discharge regulations.

However, she took issue with the prisons department saying their facilities were yet to comply hence are compromising the environment.

She pointed out Bungoma and Kodiaga Prisons, which continue to discharge wastewater that does not meet the set standards.

Kisumu County Director of Environment Tom Togo said NEMA was working closely with all institutions discharging wastewater to ensure they comply.

“In Kisumu we have had challenges with Maseno University, Kibos Sugar, Kodiaga Prison, Muhoroni Sugar and Agro Chemicals but we are working together to enforce compliance,” he said.

By Joseph Otieno and Chris Mahandara

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