Three hawkers in Nairobi were arrested on Monday by officials from the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) after being found using plastic bags to package their goods.
In addition, they were also found in possession of about 500 pieces of the banned plastic bags.
The three are expected to appear in court today (Tuesday).
"Three traders were arrested in Nairobi yesterday using banned plastic bags. About 500 pieces of the bags were seized. The trio are being presented in court today. According to Section 144 of EMCA, any person using banned bags is liable to 2-4 million fine or imprisonment of 1-4 years," Nema tweeted.
3 traders were arrested in Nairobi yesterday using banned plastic bags. About 500 pieces of the bags were seized. The trio are being presented in court today. According to Section 144 of EMCA, any person using banned bags is liable to 2-4 million fine or imprisonment of 1-4 years pic.twitter.com/kXUTS571FL
-- NEMA Kenya (@NemaKenya) February 18, 2020
The use of plastic bags was banned by the government in 2017 with shoppers encouraged use of non-woven bags.
This was to help reduce the plastic waste menace that has vastly affected the environment.
The implementation of the ban came with measures including penalties for those found with plastic bags, including commercial and household packaging.
The ban was challenged but the courts upheld it.
Bags used for industrial primary packaging, where the product is in direct contact with the plastic and is done at the source are however exempted from the ban.
Flat bags used as waste liners for hazardous waste, including medical waste and chemicals and regular waste garbage bin liners, are also exempted from the ban.
The Environment Manufacturers and Co-ordination Act stipulates that offenders are liable to jail terms of not less than a year in prison or a fine of not less than Sh2 million.
However, on social media Kenyans faulted Nema for arresting the three hawkers instead of first apprehending manufacturers who are still producing the plastic bags.
"Please leave the poor folks alone. They have done nothing wrong apart from trying to make a living in this hopeless society. Atlst give them an alternative for God's sake!" said @kiarie_ranjo.
"First Clean Nairobi river why arrest people who are hunting for their families... nonsense," wrote @Premium_savage.
"Am nt saying its ok for them to use them? But, u gotta approach this right. Plastics bags are everywhere, so cut the source otherwise u will arrested every small trader in Kenya. Make sure the bags never reach to them," commented @kelvinkiumi.
"Nema has the capacity to unearth the channels through which the illegal polythene are shipped in to the market, and possibly arrest the 'big fishes' to end this menace. It is extremely saddening to seeing that only the poor small scale traders are netted by Nema operations," stated @Giitwa_Gichuki.
"Nema is the most useless of all government entities in Kenya. Deal with the problem from the source (manufacturer or importer); not the end-user. And have you never noticed that nearly all Jumia packages are plastic material? Or for big companies you close eyes?" asked @CMwabili.