Friday, September 20, 2019

Scores of Kitui traders selling and using banned plastic bags and businesses violating effluent discharge regulations were on Wednesday arrested during a crackdown by National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) enforcement officers.

 Speaking after the sting operation carried out in various Kitui Town business premises, markets, petrol stations, hotels and other enterprises, Kitui NEMA Coordinator Godfrey Wafula decried continued distribution and use of the banned plastic bags in the county.

 “We are aware that traders are still using these plastic bags despite the ban put in place two years ago and hoteliers are discharging hazardous effluent from their premises into the environment leading to pollution. This is against environmental conservation laws as enshrined in our Constitution,” said Wafula.

  The NEMA official disclosed that the agency would not tire to raid premises operated by unscrupulous business people and maintain vigilance for compliance.

 He further warned traders and vegetable vendors to comply with the directive banning the usage of plastic bags adding that those found culpable will be arraigned in court.

“We have put measures in place to nab the manufacturers and distributors of the banned plastic bags countrywide and this crackdown in Kalundu market is geared towards attaining prescribed standards protect the environment and human health,” said Wafula.

He said that they were targeting business people selling the plastic banned plastic bags to ensure compliance with the ban to keep our environment safe and ensure adherence to public health standards.

NEMA Deputy Director Legal Services Linda Kosgey said that  courts of law would determine fines to be meted against offenders ranging from Sh2 million to Sh4 million or imprisonment term of not less than one year to four years.

Kosgey said that businesses that do not have waste water pre-treatment systems in place hence discharging raw sewage into the sewer line or into the environment would be issued with compliance notice failure to which they would be shut down.

She disclosed that according to Water Quality Regulations 2006, companies discharging into the environment were supposed to apply for the annual Effluent Discharge Licenses (EDL) from NEMA after undertaking annual audit.

“Those discharging into the sewer line are supposed to apply for discharge permits from Water and Sewerage Companies within their respective Counties,” she said.

Kosgey warned all business enterprises discharging untreated effluent into the environment that they faced closure if they do not comply and urged those who have been issued with improvement orders to adhere to the conditions of the orders to avert closure.

NEMA Deputy Director Environmental Planning and Research Charles Lange noted that the ongoing inspections against illegal discharges do not aim to hurt businesses as the Authority understands the importance of a thriving business economy.

Lange disclosed that businesses should not be allowed to operate at the expense of the environment and called on the operators to comply with various environmental laws.

He implored on the public to offer information to the Authority on companies discharging harmful effluent into the environment.

However, several traders at Kalundu market decried the raid saying that they do not have alternative packaging materials to use and called on the agency to mop up the plastic bags from their origin.

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