MPs want ban on plastic bags suspended

Kenya's Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu. 

Players in the plastic industry have received a reprieve after a House team recommended the suspension of a gazette notice banning the manufacture and use of bags made from the material.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) had petitioned MPs to reverse the decision by Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu issued through a gazette notice on February 28. KAM termed the six-month notice to ban use of plastics in the country too short.

The National Assembly's Environment committee, in a report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, recommended the gazette notice issued by the CS be suspended immediately, as demanded by players in the sector.

"In response to the prayers sought by the petitioners, the committee recommends the immediate suspension of the gazette notice," the committee said in its report.

According to the report, the unreasonableness in the time frame provided to implement the legal notice, lack of adequate stakeholder consultation and non-compliance with provisions of law informed the decision.

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Two weeks ago, while appearing before the same committee, CS Wakhungu maintained that the government will not reverse the ban on the use and manufacture of plastic bags.

CS Wakhungu explained to the MPs, that she followed the due process of the law when she issued a six month notice on the use of plastic bags in the country, insisting that the decision will not be reconsidered.

"The six month notice is based on the fact that there had been prior engagements with the plastic sector since 2005, when the government first attempted to ban the use of plastics in the country. We have involved various stakeholders in the conversation," she said.

Prof Wakhungu noted that the assertion by the petitioner, that the six month notice given to plastic industry players is too short, does not hold water.

"The six month notice is adequate for the industry to adjust accordingly. The time is also adequate for the consumers to adjust themselves to the new packaging requirements," added the CS.

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