NEMA officers raid factory, arrest manager over plastic bags

National Environment Management Authority, (NEMA) Machakos County Director Mr Titus Simiyu, and Grace Maina, an Environment Officer, show some of the polythene bags that were impounded at a factory in Mlolongo on February 21 2018. [Photo by Peterson Githaiga/Standard]

A factory manager has been arrested after plastic bags worth millions of shillings were found in a godown in Mlolongo yesterday.

Police and National Environment Management Authority (Nema) officials led by County Director Titus Simiyu raided the factory after being tipped that it was still selling plastic bags long after the Government ban was effected.

Thousands of plastic bags were recovered during the raid.

"We got information that this particular premises has been distributing plastic paper bags in violation of a Government order that banned them," said Mr Simiyu.

He said the company had been licensed to recycle plastics but did not inform Nema about the batch of plastic bags in its godown.

"We cannot run away from the truth that plastic bags are secretly back in the market even after the ban," said Simiyu.

Decision reached

The director said a decision had been reached to destroy the plastics on site under the supervision of the Nema officials and the police.

The factory manager is expected in court this week.

The raid comes barely a day after newly-appointed Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko asked ministry staff to resign if they felt the weight of work was too much for them to handle.

Speaking as he took office, Mr Tobiko put on notice traders blamed for sneaking the banned plastic bags back into the market.

The ban took effect on August 28, 2017. Temporary respite was however given for garbage bin liners and plastics used for packaging goods in industries.

Under the Environment Manufacturers and Co-ordination Act, those found culpable of flouting the ban face a jail term no shorter than one year or a fine of not less than Sh2 million.

The ban applies to the use, manufacture and importation of plastics. Scores of suspects have been arrested since the ban took effect.