A section of Kenyans on Twitter have come to the defense of three traders who were arrested by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) for using banned plastic bags.
The three traders who were arrested on Monday, February 17, in Nairobi CBD, are set to be presented to court today.
About 500 pieces of the banned plastic paper bags were also seized during the arrested.
Nema says that the trio is looking to face 1-4 years in prison or 2-4 million fine for the offense.
"3 traders were arrested in Nairobi yesterday using banned plastic bags. About 500 pieces of the bags were seized. The trio are being presented in court today. According to Section 144 of EMCA, any person using banned bags is liable to 2-4 million fine or imprisonment of 1-4 years," said NEMA.
However, some netizens expressed their displeasure after the trio was arrested, with most of them saying that NEMA should go for the distributors and not the traders.
Giitwa Gichuki says, "Though I do not sympathize with anyone using the banned bags, this is too low for you guys. Extremely low, bearing in mind that the unscrupulous dealers responsible for the production and supplying the polythene bags in bulk are walking scot-free."
His sentiments were echoed by Kelvin Kiumi, who said," I am not saying it's ok for them to use them. But, you've got to approach this right. Plastics bags are everywhere, so cut the source; otherwise, you will arrest every small trader in Kenya. Make sure the bags never reach to them."
Elish Okode says, "This is a joke in 21st Century. How many rivers are being polluted daily? How are our streets and many residentials? Is there atmospheric air balance? Do Kenyans breath oxygen or poisons? Stop majoring on the minor."
One user suggested that NEMA should provide alternative solutions for cheap packaging so that small traders can continue with their businesses.
"Alternative solutions for cheap packing should have been provided by @NemaKenya to the trio to ensure they can continue business without harming the environment. An arrest is not the most favorable way forward for anyone, "tweeted Ali Amersi.
Kenyan activist Boniface Mwangi said “Drunk driving that causes death a fine of Ksh 20,000 or 6 months in jail. Being caught with plastic bags, 1-4 years in jail or 2-4 million fine. It's the poor, street traders who are arrested but the importers of the plastic bags aren't arrested. How is that justice @NemaKenya?”
The ban on plastic bags in Kenya took effect on August 28, 2017, for environmental reasons.
Through a statement in 2019, NEMA issued an ultimatum on the usage and manufacture of non-woven bags over the poor quality.
"The Authority directs that all manufacturers, importers, suppliers, and users of these non-woven polypropylene bags should stop further manufacture, importation, supply and use of these bags in the Kenyan market effective March 31, 2019," read part of the statement.
NEMA stated that manufacturers started producing poor quality non-woven bags due to the rise in demand.
"The authority noted that over time, due to the rising need of the non-woven bags in the market, the manufacturers are producing very' low gauge' poor quality non-woven bags which cannot be used multiple times but are disposed of after single use," NEMA added.