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NEMA Director General Geoffrey Wahungu gives direction as plastics ban takes effect

You are free to use your plastic bag at home but only to dispose of waste, the environment authority has said.

But if you have an elaborate waste management system at home, then the Government advises you to present that plastic bag to the nearest supermarket starting tomorrow for disposal.

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There, it will be picked up for recycling by contracted firms. Tuskys, Uchumi, and Nakumatt supermarkets have already signed up.

With the ban on the use of plastic bags coming into effect on Monday, the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) said it has no plans to go on a spree of arresting people.

Nema Director General Geoffrey Wahungu said his inspectorate team will be “as soft as possible” to make sure that before the law takes full effect, all Kenyans are well informed.

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Stiff laws

Wahungu said the authority expects that in a month’s time, the county governments will step in by putting in place by-laws to regulate the use of plastic bags.

“Our laws are stiff but are not meant for common mwananchi. The big fines are basically for the manufacturers and suppliers since we want to deal with the problem from the top,” said Wahungu.

According to the law gazetted on February 28, if found contravening the ban on plastic bags, you stand to be fined up to Sh4 million or a jail term of four years.

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Industries and other players were given six months to re-organise themselves, with the law taking effect yesterday.

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Wahungu confirmed that the authority has dispatched a team of 200 officials to different parts of the country to start the enforcement of the ‘no plastic bag’ law.

With claims that police officers have started harassing people over the ban, Wahungu said all inspectorate officers have been instructed to identify themselves while on duty.

He said though the authority is working with close coordination with the Inspector General’s office, there is no arrangement whatsoever with the police to have them arrest offenders.

According to Wahungu, the exercise the Nema inspectorate team is carrying out is not a raid but sensitisation to see if businesses have implemented any alternatives and if they have any plastic bags still in stock.

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“The only time the police have to step in is when providing security to the officers when carrying out inspection. There is no legal provision for police to have you arrested,” said Wahungu.

The inspection exercise is expected to be done in 176 plastic manufacturing companies across the country.

In Nairobi, the inspection was done through supermarkets and plastic manufacturing firms, which were required to sign two forms: one of implementing alternatives and the other declaring the number of plastic bags still in stock.

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