The ban on the use of plastic bags and papers is effective in some places but it is business as usual in Nairobi’s Dandora, Umoja, Kayole, Njiru, Mwiki, Baraka and Huruma estates.
Here one finds heaps of plastic waste scattered everywhere.
Although plastic shopping bags disappeared for a while, especially during the early days of the ban, with small traders using alternative bags or asking customers to bring along their own containers, this is not so anymore.
Traders are brazenly using the banned plastics to pack milk, milk, vegetables and mandazi as the law turns a blind eye on the crime.
Asked how they obtain the plastic bags, a milk vendor said: “Nowadays, there are distributors who are selling these items to us, though secretly”.
Although he is aware of the risk involved, the vendor has to stock these bags because he has to retain customers”.
“Most customers especially, men, cannot carry containers about with them. They will go elsewhere where they can find one,” says the trader.
However, this one is very careful.
“I am very suspicious of some people, particularly those who look smart. I tell them to produce their containers.”
A vegetable vendor began re-using plastic papers for her customers when she realised nobody was following up.
“Even police officers have no issues whenever they sees us with them, so we don’t worry for now” she says. This view is collaborated by a mandazi vendor in Umoja who uses plastic bags openly.
“Officers have no problem with us though they have been passing here regularly”.
Alternative bags introduced to fill the gap left by plastic bags following its ban are now lying idle in stores as they are rarely used.
The bags are smuggled in from Uganda where despite a ban, the production and merchandising of the bags is still going on.
“There are many people who are making a killing out of this business from magendo business” an informer from Teso says.
“Although some traders manage to pass out the contraband products by bribing officers at the main border, many of them use panya routes to ensure the goods are transported safely” he discloses.
When contacted, Nema’s Chief Enforcement Officer Robert Orina confirmed that they have had a challenge in eradicating these bags due to lack of sufficient resources and even officers.