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NEMA Under Fire: Kenyan Millers Raise Concerns Over Plastic Bag Policy Enforcement

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NEMA Under Fire: Kenyan Millers Raise Concerns Over Plastic Bag Policy Enforcement

In recent years, Kenya has made significant strides in environmental conservation, with initiatives like the ban on plastic bags symbolizing our commitment to a cleaner, greener future.

However, amidst these efforts, a glaring hypocrisy persists: the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) failing to enforce its own directives.

The 2017 plastic bag ban was hailed as a significant milestone in addressing solid waste issues in our country. As a concerned miller, I am disheartened by NEMA’s inertia in tackling plastic bag policy violations. 

Despite the ban, some millers continue to flagrantly disregard the law, endangering our ecosystem and public health. What’s even more alarming is the apparent complicity of certain NEMA officials in turning a blind eye to these violations in exchange for personal gain. Reports of corruption within NEMA raise serious questions about the agency’s commitment to its mandate of safeguarding our environment.

The recent warnings issued by NEMA in November 2023 to manufacturers and importers regarding the illegal use of plastic bags ring hollow in the face of continued non-compliance. It’s high time for NEMA to end this cycle of hypocrisy and negligence. Mere warnings are not enough; concrete action is needed to hold violators accountable. The law is clear, and those who flout it must face consequences.

The consequences of NEMA’s negligence are dire and far-reaching. While we strive to adhere to the principles of sustainability, our competitors exploit regulatory loopholes to gain a competitive advantage, flooding the market with secondary bales made of cheap, plastic-packaged products.

What adds insult to injury is the blatant disparity in pricing between products packaged in plastic and those in compliance with the ban. Despite the exorbitant costs incurred in producing non-plastic packaging, some millers shamelessly cling to the use of plastic bags, driven solely by the allure of higher profit margins.

Meanwhile, those of us who have embraced sustainable practices find ourselves marginalized, struggling to compete in a market where price trumps principle.

It is travesties of justice that while honest millers suffer; those who flout the law are allowed to thrive with impunity. Reports of substandard flour flooding the shelves of supermarkets go unchecked, as NEMA turns a blind eye to the plight of those who play by the rules. The very essence of fairness and justice is being trampled upon, as the scales of accountability are tipped in favor of the unscrupulous few.

Even supermarkets, supposedly bastions of corporate responsibility, are complicit in this environmental travesty by turning a blind eye to the origins of the products they sell.

However, these warnings have fallen on deaf ears, with millers persisting in their use of plastic bags, emboldened by the lack of enforcement and oversight.

It’s high time for NEMA to uphold the law without fear or favor, ensuring that those responsible for environmental degradation face the full force of the law. The livelihoods of honest businesses, the well-being of our communities, and the integrity of our nation’s environmental laws hang in the balance.

The ban on plastic bags was not just a policy; it was a beacon of hope for a cleaner, greener future.

NEMA, entrusted with the solemn duty of safeguarding our environment, seems to have abdicated its responsibility. It’s disheartening to witness the agency’s failure to enforce its own directives, especially when it comes to something as crucial as the ban on plastic bags.

It is time for NEMA to end this cycle of hypocrisy and negligence. The livelihoods of honest, law-abiding millers are at stake, as they struggle to compete with those who flout the law for financial gain.

NEMA must fulfill its duty to the Kenyan people and the environment by rigorously enforcing the ban on plastic bags, holding violators accountable, and ensuring that our supermarkets refuse to stock products packaged in non-compliant materials.

The law is unequivocal in its stance against the use of plastic bags. Section 145 of the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA), 1999, clearly outlines the penalties for non-compliance, holding both corporate entities and individuals accountable for their actions.

Yet, despite warnings and directives some institutions continue to operate with impunity, flouting the law and endangering our environment. I implore NEMA to shed its cloak of hypocrisy and fulfill its mandate to protect our environment and public health.

The time for action is now.

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