Four traders were arrested in possession of several bales of the banned plastic bags in Meru.
The national government banned use of plastic bags in a gazette notice by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment dated February,28, 2017.
Those arrested were picked by inspection officers at Gakoromone market and a number of shops at Meru town’s main matatu terminus.
The crackdown was conducted by National Environment Management Authority (Nema) officials in collaboration with the county department of environment.
County Nema director, Mark Angwenyi, said the suspects were part of a cartel that has been conducting business in plastic bags despite a ban imposed two years ago. Nema suspects the plastic bags were sourced from neighbouring countries although it did not rule out that some of them may have been locally produced.
“We conducted the raid after gathering intelligence that some small scale traders were involved in this illicit business. The four persons we arrested had several bales of plastic bags,” said Angwenyi.
The county chief officer in charge of the environment, Kinoti Mwebia, said the department was working with Nema to enforce the ban on plastics.
The crackdown came barely two weeks after another trader was arrested in Meru town with 300,000 pieces of the plastic bags suspected to have been smuggled from Uganda.
Ayubu Gituma was released on Sh100,000 bond by a Meru court after he denied the charge.
In Kirinyaga, Nema officials raided PI market next to the county’s boundary with Embu on Monday and impounded a consignment of plastic bags. One trader was arrested.
The early morning raid was led by Kirinyaga Nema county director, Fabian Simitu and his Embu counterpart, Kennedy Odhiambo, who threatened to close the market for openly defying the plastic bags ban.
“We are tired of making arrests, the only option left to end this menace is to close down the market, then the supplier of the plastic bags will have nowhere to sell them,” said Simitu.
Some of the traders blamed the government for allowing the plastic bags to enter the county despite numerous check points. “Why is Nema unable to stop the supply of the bags at the source?” said Josphat Kariuki.