• Three traders arrested and fined Sh30,000
Traders in Homa Bay town are at a loss as to how they will pack food as the crackdown on plastic bags intensifies.
The crackdown is being carried out by Nema and security officials led by John Maniafu.
In July last year the county government banned the use of newspapers to wrap food. Health executive Richard Muga said the ink in newspapers contains harmful chemicals.
“The ink...has lead substance and other chemicals that are poisonous,” Muga said.
On Wednesday, the raided Homa Bay market and arrested three traders found with banned plastic bags.
Simon Wakinyi, Grace Otieno and Jane Auma were charged before senior resident magistrate Leister Simiyu.
They were accused of stocking more than 3,600 pieces of polythene bags. Wakinyi was fined Sh15,00, Auma Sh10,000 and Otieno Sh5,000.
They were fined according to the number of bags each had. The law provides for a maximum fine of Sh4 million or a four-year jail term.
Prosecutor Denish Shabola said the accused were using the plastic bags with full knowledge that they were banned by the government.
In her judgment, the magistrate said the traders deserved punishment to serve as a deterrent.
“We want members of the public to ensure they follow the law and operate their businesses with decorum,” Simiyu said.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday, more than 3,000 traders protested that they have no alternative packaging materials.
Giant Traders Association chairman Geoffrey Onduso said they are counting losses.
“It’s hard to operate a food business in Homa Bay after the county outlawed newspapers,” he said.
Traders affected include butchery operators, fishmongers and those selling mandazis and chapati.
On Tuesday Nema banned non-woven plastic bags. The ban takes effect next month.
Atieno said frequent arrests by security officials has negatively affected their business.
Trader Millicent Atieno said frequent arrests over use of plastic bags has hurt their businesses.
“We appeal to Nema to provide us with bags for packaging food because we’re frustrated,” Atieno said.
Edited by Rosemary Wangui
We want members of the public to ensure they follow the law and operate their businesses with decorum,” Simiyu said.