The three men were selling their produce in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi. The goods included passion fruit, plums, and sugar cane. The men were detained by authorities and were due to make their first court appearance on Tuesday.
Kenya has some of the strictest penalties in the world for its plastic bag ban that became law in 2017. Those found guilty of violating the ban face prison sentences of up to four years or can be fined up to an amount equal to about $40,000 USD.
World Bank reported figures for 2015-2016 that revealed more than a third of the Kenyan population lives on under $1.90 a day.
Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority or NEMA made a tweet yesterday they discovered on Monday that three men had 500 plastic bags in their possession.
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 pic.twitter.com/kXUTS571FL
— NEMA Kenya (@NemaKenya) February 18, 2020
However, NEMA faced strong criticism from users on Twitter for going after small-time vendors.
Poor traders will be jailed for upto 4 years for using plastic bags or pay millions in fine. Unfortunately @NemaKenya will never arrest the rich people who dump industrial waste on our rivers or the ones who run noisy clubs in residential areas.
It's a crime to be poor in Kenya. https://t.co/ZZ790PPyhS
— Boniface Mwangi (@bonifacemwangi) February 18, 2020
Twitter user @AnotherKenya wittingly pointed out that there are still other forms of plastic currently being used in Kenya, and wrote: “Did you know that sausages from farmers choice, pampers, know that Ketepa Teabags box, beans and other cereals in supermarkets available for the middle class are all wrapped in one-time use polythene bags? This is a “social class war.”
It was estimated by the United Nations that about 100 million plastic bags were being handed out at markets in Kenya each year until the plastic bag ban became law in August 2017.
The Kenyan government had made the argument that plastic bags were contributing to environmental pollution. There was also a study by NEMA that found cattle had plastic bags inside their stomachs near urban areas, the study claimed this was found in more than half the cattle in these near urban areas.
Since Kenya banned plastic bags in 2017, other African countries have also outlawed them, including Rwanda and Morocco, followed by a 2019 ban in Tanzania.
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.