Inside Politics

Mombasa eyes circular economy to fight plastic waste

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 00:00 |
Waste collected at a section of Mtopanga River. If not removed, it would end up in the ocean. Photo/PD/JASMINE ATIENO

The permeable border between Kenya and Uganda remains an entry point of the banned single-use plastic bags to Kenya.

This has been revealed by the Trans Nzoia County Director of the National Environment Management Authority NEMA Stanley Ambasa.

In an interview with People Daily Digital, Ambasa said that although the government of Kenya banned the usage of plastic bags in August 2017, some rogue businesspeople still manage to sidestep the system and sneak in the banned plastic bags into the country.

"Yes it is true polythene bags were banned in this country, but you are all aware plastic bags have not been banned in Uganda. The bags find their way in Kenya through the porous border," Ambasa said.

The County NEMA boss said ever since the country banned the manufacturing, selling, carrying and usage of the bags, several bags have been confiscated.

"As an Authority, we are trying our level best to ensure that we halt this illegal business and ensure our country is plastic bags free," he added.

Ojwang’ further urged the business community to engage their members before the government takes action against them.

"We shall not tolerate this kind of business and from tomorrow, we shall launch a ruthless operation on traders selling polythene bags," Ojwang' said.

In 2017, the government of Kenya through the then Environment Cabinet Secretary Judy Wakhungu banned the usage of single-use plastic bags.

The manufacturers of plastic bags opposed the ban, arguing that over 80,000 jobs would have been lost.

According to the ban, anybody found guilty of the offence face up to four years in jail or a fine of up to 4 million shillings.

By 2050, the UN estimates that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.

According to 2017 NEMA statistics, it was estimated that Kenyans used 24 million bags every month.

Plastic bags constitute the biggest challenge to solid waste management in Kenya.  In Trans Nzoia, solid waste is a great concern for environmentalists.

The National Environmental Complaints Committee visited the county following complaints of environmental pollution.

Tuwan river has been encroached by sand harvesters and solid waste dumped into the stream, affecting the safety and quality of water.

Leah Mukite from the Water Resources Authority said the Authority together with other stakeholders are embarking on riparian lands marking and pegging exercise.

"Tuwan River is our concern, as the law allows, we are on a rigorous riparian marking and pegging," Mukite said.

Trans Nzoia County is still grappling with solid waste management, and the existing dumping site at Machinjoni is currently full.

The county government has been debating on where to get sufficient land to set up a dumping site.

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