By Special Correspondent

Importers and retailers of plastic bags are in court to contest a ban on the use, manufacture and importation of the same for the commercial and household packaging by the government.

Businessmen Fredrick Gichuhi Njenga and Stephen Mwangi are aggrieved by the Government directive through a ministerial legal notice dated February 27 2016 by Environment CS Prof Judy Wakhungu.

The duo have faulted the legal notice No. 2356 of 2017 claiming that it does not comply with Statutory Instruments Act 2013.

“The notice lacks clarity and intelligibility to the anticipated users which is a mandatory requirement under the Act,” they state.

Six months notice

They have faulted the notice saying the six months given for them to comply   with the directive is too short as they will require time to clear all stocks and fulfill their contractual obligations.

Njenga and Mwangi have questioned the resolution on grounds that it has no legal justification and was reached without adequate stakeholder’s consultation.

“ The notice in question is unlawful because it does not  keep up with the principles of good governance as require in the supreme law which include  accountability, public participation and transparency, ” the petitioners state.

Arguing that they stand to suffer great economic loss, the two now want the gazette notice suspended pending determination of the case.

Njenga and Mwangi have supported the plastic industry since millions have been employed adding that they have stock worth millions which will go to waste should the notice be effected on August 28 2017.

Solid waste

Over 24 million plastic bags are used monthly in Kenya, half of which end up in the solid waste mainstream and now constitute the biggest challenge solid waste management in the country.

In 2007, the government had issued a ban against bags below 0.3 millimeters in thickness, a move that never bore any fruits. In January 2011, the National Environmental Management Agency (NEMA) declared another vain ban on below 0.6 millimeters in thickness.

According to CS Wakhungu, the only plastic bags that will be allowed are those for industrial purposes and not those given over the counter.

While the  United Nations  has praised the move by the CS as an effort  to conserve the environment,  Kenya Association of Manufactures (KAM)  has opposed the ban, saying consumer behavior in waste disposal is the challenge.