NEMA to close markets over use of plastic bags

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NEMA Director General Prof. Geofrey Wakhungu addressing journalists at NEMA headquarters in Nairobi.

National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has threatened to close markets where traders are still using banned plastic bags.

The authority has said they would involve police and county askaris to facilitate enforcement and the officers will arrest the suspects .They will as well oversee the closure of the affected markets throughout the country.

When plastic bags were banned in the Country, NEMA CEOs indicated an aim of combating the reported smuggling of the banned materials into the country by suspected black market traders believed to be working in cohorts with their Kenyan counterparts.

NEMA had recently raised alarm that their efforts to end the use of the banned bags was being hindered by illegal importation from Uganda. Flimsy plastic bags commonly used by fruit and vegetable vendors for packaging their goods were identified by the authority as the leading in circulation despite the ban.

Director-General Geoffrey Wahungu said they had confirmed that markets were ganging up to resist the enforcement of the ban warning that it will attract closure of the entire market as well as arrest of the suspected culprits.

“Major resisting markets include City park market, Gikomba, lower Kabete market and Mlolongo market among others,” said Wahungu said at their offices in Nairobi yesterday. He appealed to the chairpersons of all markets in the country to ensure their members comply with the Nema regulations or face the consequences.

Wahungu added that the body will do a collective action to arrest those found with the bags. Vehicles will also be inspected to ensure they are not carrying the bags.

Nema Board Chairman John Konchellah said there was 80 percent compliance with the ban adding that the remaining 20 percent was due to the plastics sneaked through Western Kenya, South Coast and Lungalunga among other entries.

The chair explained that the plastic bags are now being made at night in Kenya and insisted that anybody seeking to resist is performing a criminal act.

Mr Konchellah said that it would be unfortunate for many traders to be affected when their market is closed saying the market leaders can act to avoid the repercussions. “We don’t want to close the markets but if we are forced to, then we shall,” he said.