Authority cracks whip on users of plastic papers

Eleven people have been arrested and charged in court after being found using polythene papers in Machakos County.

Machakos County National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) director Titus Simiyu says they are working hard to ensure the proscribed products do not find their way into the area.

Simiyu has similarly warned residents and businessmen using the banned papers that they risked arrest and prosecution in court once officers catch up with them.

We have already arrested and taken 11 suspects in court after they were nabbed using the banned papers. All have been fined Sh20, 000 each and we hope this will act as a deterrent to others intending to do the same, he added.

The officer is now calling for a greater involvement in the war against the plastic materials which have been described as an ecological disaster by environmentalists.

He has cited small vegetable vendors and sugar cane sellers as the most affected in the illegal use of the plastic bags and vowed to continue intensifying the crackdown on the menace until it was eradicated from the county.

Most of the users of plastic bags are vegetable vendors and sugar cane hawkers who ply their trade in the evening after our officers have left their places of work. By that time, they know they are fairly safe from arrest and can carry out their business unperturbed, he added.

The county official has however singled out residents of Mwala for being at the frontline in the war against the use the banned products and named Athi River and Mlolongo areas as the most affected in the resurgence of the papers.

He said the fine for those convicted for using plastic papers has been raised from a minimum of two million shillings to a maximum of four million shillings or an imprisonment of eighteen to twenty four months behind bars.

On August 28, 2107, Kenya took a bold step by slapping a ban on all plastic products to salvage her environment from total degradation.

The move had initially been tried over a decade earlier without success after much protests by big time manufactures effectively dealt a death knell to a sector that had raked in millions of shillings besides employing hundreds of Kenyans either directly or indirectly.

With the gazzetment of the new law, the country eventually joined selected countries in Africa and the world that have proscribed plastic materials from within their borders.

Rwanda took the lead in Africa by outlawing the use of the non-biodragradable plastic bags in 2008.

According to UNEP, there are 46, 000 pieces of plastic litter currently floating in every square mile of our oceans.

These materials have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of marine animals and up to more than 1 million birds each year due to plastic pollution.

The Greenpeace movement says there at least 267 marine species known to have suffered from ingesting marine debris with 90 per cent being plastics.

Experts estimate that it takes at least 1, 000 years for the plastics to decompose a fact that perhaps explains why most parts of the country were littered with all sorts of their end products.

Source: Kenya News Agency