1 March 2018

Kenya: Manufacturer Seeks Compensation After Plastic Bags Ban

Nairobi — A manufacturer is seeking compensation for losses incurred as a result of the ban on plastic bags manufacturing.

Hi-Plast says the ban effected by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources last year through the National Environment Management Authority caused serious losses.

The company further argues that it is unable to meet its financial obligations that are hinged on manufacturing of the banned commodity.

It says in court documents that it would have been prudent for the respondents to allow it "to at least engage in measures to mitigate its losses."

"The petitioners loans were to be repaid solely based on sales projection that were hinged on month-on-month output and sales of its products which are now deemed illegal ," suit papers filed by Hi-Plast lawyer, Eddy Orinda, read.

An affidavit sworn by the company's director Mahesh Dodhia states that "the ministry is abetting other manufacturers in continued production of plastic paper bags and that the ban seems to have been effected to prop the businesses of friendly manufacturers and is this discriminatory and malicious."

"Nothing would have been easier for the respondents to do a factory by factory audit to know what stock was being held by each stakeholder and draw a viable plan on how long it would have been reasonably possible to dispose of this stock without unduly ambushing the petitioner with the ban," the affidavit further states.

The petitioner says that at the time the Gazette Notice was published in March 2017 the company was in the process of shipping raw materials.

Hi-plast says it invested millions of shillings both in machinery and raw materials which had been sourced prior to the ban and which had been projected to last for more than eight months.

"As a stakeholder in the manufacturing business I was never consulted or involved in the formulation of policy or even implementation of the ban prior to gazettement," the petitioner argues.

Hi-Plast says that following the ban, it requested for a meeting with authorities through the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) to raise its concerns about the ban and its resultant effect.

The firm says after the meeting, the authorities committed to extend the effective date of the ban but in a sudden turn of events, announced the ban.

The petitioner has attached copies of letters and proposals that were made in the respective meetings.

Hi-Plast also seeks an order declaring the ban illegal and unconstitutional.

The plastic sector in 2015 presented a proposal on waste management to the environment ministry and NEMA which proposed among other things, the establishment of a waste management board levy to be charged on all plastics.

In further effort to tackle the plastics menace, the government and KAM entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on a joint implementation plan for sustainable management of plastic.

On March 14, 2017 through Gazette Notice No 2356 dated February 2017, the Cabinet Secretary in charge of environment declared a ban on the use , manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for household and commercial packaging which was to take effect six months from the date of the notice.

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