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What ban? Plastic bags trade still thriving in western Kenya towns



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The banned plastic carrier bags are still in circulation in most parts of western Kenya despite hefty penalties imposed by the government on individuals flouting the regulation.
Most of the plastic bags are imported into the country through porous points and are sold in backstreet markets in Busia, Bungoma, Trans-Nzoia and Uasin Gishu counties.
Traders on Monday said some unscrupulous government officials are involved in the illegal but lucrative business.

“Some government officials offer protection to brokers dealing in the sale of the banned plastic bags,” said a trader who sought anonymity.
Investigations by the Daily Nation revealed that the plastic bags were being sold in most markets in Eldoret town. They are mainly used by grocers to package goods.
“The carriers are only offered to loyal customers who are ready to protect the identity of the distributors,” said a trader at Huruma market who has several bundles of the plastic bags.

According to the traders, the dealers have secret arrangements with suppliers who deliver the carriers at designated points.
“Some of these plastic bags are old stocks and the dealers are making frantic efforts to dispose them to avert losses,” explained another trader at Eldoret market.
The National Environment Management Authority and county governments are expected to enforce the ban, which came into force last year.

The Environment ministry announced a fine of Sh50,000 for anyone found with plastic bags while manufacturers flouting the ban will be fined between Sh2 million and Sh4 million.
“We have a crackdown on individuals involved in illegal importation of the plastic bags and sealing off areas where the products are sneaked into the country,” said Mr John Chumo, the National Environment Complaints Committee secretary.

Majority of livestock farmers in the region support the ban.
“The circulation of plastic bags posed health and environmental hazards and the ban has proved beneficial,” said Mr James Too from Saos, Nandi County.
This comes as some fraudulent security officers and the National Authority for Campaigns against Drug Abuse administrators in the North Rift region are allegedly colluding with cartels to supply illicit brews and drugs to the local market.

“Suppliers of illicit brews and drugs have adopted new strategies to dodge arrests. Some enjoy protection of corrupt government officials to defeat the war against drug abuse and consumption of illegal brews,” said Uasin Gishu County Commissioner Abdi Hassan.
“We are aware that hard drugs including Shisha, bhang and second generation liquor is sold within the CBD and it is unfortunate that some law enforcement units and other government officials are involved in the racket,” said Mr Hassan.
Police officers last week impounded illicit brews sneaked into the country from Uganda.