The ban on the use, manufacture and importation of plastic bags is here to stay.
This is after the High Court declined to suspend the February 28 2017 legal notice by Environment CS Judy Wakhungu giving importers and manufactures a six month notice to adjust to new Eco-friendly packaging starting August 28 2017.
In a landmark ruling that now places Kenya directly in the environmental watch especially after the UN pumped Ksh250 million into the national conservation project, judge Bernard Eboso refused to suspend the match towards a safer environment.
“Grant of a conservatory order in the circumstances often present dispute would severely injure the public interest…public interest in this regard is the general environmental welfare of the Kenyan people…” the judge said.
He said commercial interests cannot override weighty environmental concerns entrenched in the country’s constitutional and legal framework on protection and management.
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers wanted the ban suspend on the grounds that it would deal en economic sabotage after its members and traders had made huge investments in the plastic bags trade.
According to the judge CS Wakhungu rightly issued the notice which had been faulted by Kenya Manufactures Association (KMA) and two others on grounds that it was ambiguous and without participation of key stakeholders.
The judge said Wakhungu acted within her powers when she took steps to identify hazardous material and took steps to address the problem.
“At this point it does appear she has the power…courts play a crucial role in promoting environmental governance, upholding the rule of law and ensuring a fair balance between competing environmental. social and developmental and commercial interests,’ the judge said.
He said the environmental welfare of the Kenyan people requires recognition and protection of the totality of the natural environment of which is a state function.
The court also rejected assertions by the petitioners that they stand to suffer irreparable economic loss if the injunction is not granted pending determination of the case.
“This would mean that the offensive plastic bags continue to suffocate the environment to the detriment of the Kenyan population while serving the commercial interests of a section of the plastic bags dealers, ” justice Eboso added.
KMA had implored the court to stay implementation of the notice until the issue is deliberated and a decision is agreed upon by all the key stakeholders.
The move to ban plastic bags was also contested on grounds that livelihoods of many people would be disrupted.
However the state through NEMA, and the Attorney General had urged the court not to suspend the notice arguing that the ban is part of the governments commitment to control pollution.
The state was supported in the suit by Multytouch International through its lawyer Julius Anyoka.
Anyoka had submitted that the six months notice given to stakeholders was reasonable for them to adjust.
The case will be mentioned on September 21 2017 for directions and setting a hearing date for the main petition.