The environmental watchdog has raised the alarm over what it says is the increased smuggling of plastic bags into the country from Uganda.
The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) said a trader had been arrested in Meru with a consignment of the banned packing bags, which are believed to have originated from the neighbouring country.
Nema Meru County Director of Environment Mark Angwenyi, said the businessman, who runs a wholesale shop in Gakoromone, was found with more than 300,000 pieces of plastic bags that he was selling to retailers as well as to fruit, cereals and vegetable vendors.
Imenti North Deputy County Commissioner Isaac Masinde said they had received intelligence reports indicating that the polythene bags were being sneaked into the country.
“Security and Nema officers recovered over 330,000 pieces of banned polythene bagswith a market value of over Sh660,000. They are believed to have been imported from Uganda,” said Mr Masinde.
The administrator urged the public to use the right packaging materials to avoid getting arrested and prosecuted.
Mr Angwenyi further stated that Nema suspected that the plastic bags were still being produced in the country and cautioned business people against trading in the banned commodity.
“Those selling or using plastic bags should be warned and know their days are numbered because these bags are a menace to the environment, and to the health of humans and animals,” said the Nema official.
Masinde said police had identified three other dealers, who were key distributors of the illegal packing bags in the county.
The Nema official said they would collaborate with the police next week and carry out a major crackdown on plastic bags and other goods that had not been certified by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.
Police said the Gakoromone businessman would be charged in court today, adding that two employees who were arrested alongside the trader would be State witnesses.
Plastic bags were banned in 2017 and their possession could lead to prosecution and a fine of up to Sh4 million or four years’ imprisonment. On Saturday, Tanzania also banned the importation, production, sale and use of plastic bags.
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