Nema struggles to end plastic bags use in Mombasa

Wednesday March 18 2020

Nema's Mombasa County boss Stephen Wambua shows the media some of the impounded 1.7 tonnes of plastic bags, valued at Sh8 million, that were seized from Mwembe Tayari on October 22, 2018. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Some traders in major markets in Mombasa County are still using plastic bags despite the nationwide ban two years ago.

Many traders complied with the ban implemented on August 29, 2017 and found solutions such as use of gunny bags or clear plastic containers.

But in parts of the country including Mombasa, officials say some people are still using the banned products.

“They could be getting them either from out of the country or from illegal suppliers within the county,” said Stephen Wambua, head of the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) in Mombasa.


Mr Wambua said they have tried arresting non-compliant people, traders in particular.

This year alone, he said, 30 have been arrested and taken to court.

“They are charged and given punitive penalties but once out, they still use the plastic bags. Imagine a sugarcane vendor being fined Sh50,000 to Sh100,000? We think their friends bail them out."

The Nema boss said they will work closely with counties and security agencies to establish the source of the banned bags.

“If we get hold of the source, we will ensure an end to supply," he said.


Mr Wambua said sugar cane vendors and owners of small, roadside businesses such as eateries were the most notorious.

“We have tried talking to traders who use plastic bags even without arresting them. They are aware it is illegal and know the disadvantages of using plastic bags," he said.

"We have told them there are alternatives. "We took some to our officers and showed them the containers. It is not a must for you cut the sugar cane into pieces. If necessary, they can chop them and put them in clear plastic containers. This is pure non-compliance."

However, the official was hopeful about full compliance with the ban.

Mr Wambua said vendors in Buxton and Sabasaba were the most notorious but that they complied with the ban.

He said they were working to achieve the same in Kongowea and Lights.

"Kongowea market is 95 percent compliant. Only a few culprits are remaining ... they will be dealt with," he said, noting they had already been given stern warnings.

He added, “We want to clear plastic bags out of our city. Cleanliness improved after the ban."