Though lauded as a bold step in the campaign to curb environmental pollution, there is still some serious work to do as the ban on the manufacture, sale and use of plastic bags imposed two years ago is still being flouted. These plastics are readily available and being used to pack goods in markets.
However, it is commendable that the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) has not taken its eyes off the ball in this effort that has seen the country win accolades internationally for tackling one of the major pollutants. In a renewed crackdown, its personnel arrested 15 people in Nyeri County recently for flouting environmental regulations, including the ban on the use of banned plastic bags and improper effluent discharge.
The offenders include small-scale traders and restaurateurs. These are people to whom the convenience of using plastic bags supersedes environmental concerns. But many others, especially petty traders in the open-air markets, are simply ignorant about it.
Nema officials are alarmed that the use of plastic carrier bags is creeping back in some areas and have vowed to ensure that it is completely wiped out and compliance enforced with waste disposal regulations in hotels, petrol stations, industries and residential areas.
Anyone flouting the ban that came into effect on August 28, 2017 by producing, selling or using plastic bags is liable to a fine of up to Sh4 million or a four-year jail term. However, the racket continues. This calls for strict enforcement of the ban.
The good news, though, is that there is a rising regional push against plastic pollution. Two months ago, Tanzania banned the use of plastic bags, joining Kenya and Rwanda, the latter having done it 10 years ago.