Nairobi News

Must Read

City crafts new law to ban use of plastic bags

Nairobi County is set to ban use of polythene bags if a Bill to regulate their use is enacted into law.

The Bill will create a framework to regulate the use of non- biodegradable polythene bags which have become an eyesore in the county.

It will also set out penalties to be meted out to those who violate the law once it comes into force.

Among the key issues to be included in the bill is a ban on the use of non- compost paper bags at points of sale by retail outlets in the County in favour of recyclable bags.

The Bill will also emphasise on education and awareness as well as provide incentives for shoppers to use bio-degradable bags.

“The Bill must take in best practices in the ban or regulation of plastic paper bags usage from the region for instance Rwanda as well as other jurisdictions. It should create a framework that clearly outlines what types of materials are allowed for the manufacture of single use shopping bags to be used within the city and commensurate penalties for violation of the same”, says part of the memorandum of the Bill.

If the Bill becomes law, the biggest losers will be importers and manufacturers of such bags which is the primary packaging material in use by retail outlets throughout the county.

And as an indication of the challenges the county assembly has to surmount to pass the Bill, Speaker Alex ole Magelo said in an interview on Wednesday that members were ready to make the necessary sacrifices.

“The assembly is aware of the fight ahead in passing this Bill but members have assured me they are ready for the fight especially now that they are originators of the bill. We are ready for the fireworks”, he said.

The Bill is arguably the most concrete attempt to deal with the plastic bags menace in the City whose negative impact on the environment in the country is reaching crisis levels.

This will not be the first attempt by City authorities to try and stem down the use of polythene bags.

In 2007 the then Nairobi City Council gazetted a by-law that prohibited the sale, import, manufacture or storage of non- biodegradable polythene bags of less than 30 microns thickness.

The by-law provided for a six months jail term but it was not implemented after manufacturers and retail outlets threatened to pass on the cost of using other materials to consumers.

The then finance minister Amos Kimunya’s attempt to discourage use by imposing a 120 per cent tax on polythene bags in the 2007/2008 budget proposals proved unpopular after manufactures of the plastic bags argued the tax was punitive and meant to drive them out of business. 

They vowed to pass the costs to the consumers to meet the extra production costs which led to suspension of its implementation.

Rwanda is among the countries in the region that have successfully implemented the ban on polythene bags through legislation.

Meanwhile, members of Nairobi County Assembly expect the executive to set aside money in the supplementary budget to finance projects as set out in the controversial ward development fund.

The assembly is optimistic the amendments effected last week that takes away the role of the members of the county assembly in the execution of the projects will be acceptable to the Controller of Budget who had expressed misgivings about the legality of the bill.