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Kenyan manufacturers warn of job losses over plastic ban

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan manufacturers on Saturday warned of possible job losses following the move by the government to ban plastic bags use which is set to come into effect on Monday.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) also clarified that the industrialists have never been against the intent of the ban, which is to clean up the country, towards improving the quality of life for all Kenyans.

“We have only differed on the manner of its execution, which did not take into account adequate stakeholder consultation,” KAM said in a statement issued in Nairobi a day after the High Court upheld ban on plastic bags.

The industrialists have argued that the ban, if implemented, would lead to loss of over 420,000 jobs and revenues to firms and the government.

“The shutdown of many factories will also mean immediate termination of workers with no send-off packages and no alternatives provided,” they argued.

The government in a gazette notice published in March imposed a ban on the use, manufacture and importation of plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging from Aug. 28.

The move, the third attempt in a decade, saw Kenya join other environmentally conscious countries in the war on the use of plastics.

The ban also means that citizens may empty their garbage and re-use the same bags over and over again, posing a health and sanitation risk.

The industrialists said it is crucial that all stakeholders are engaged to develop measures that allow the country to set up alternatives for a smooth transition from plastic bags to help attain the goal for a clean environment.

They said the six-month period was hardly enough notice for a country whose entire industry and population depends on these bags for packaging.

“We are hopeful that during the hearing of the case, the Courts will recognize the laws in the country and the Constitution, that any regulation-making authorities should undertake appropriate consultation and impact assessment before issuing a policy directive—especially if the directive is likely to have direct or substantial effect on business and on the lives of citizens,” KAM said.

The ministry has banned the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging.

The ban targeted carrier bags with handles, with or without gussets, or flat bags without handles and with or without gussets.

The manufacturers said they had developed and presented a waste management solution to the ministry of environment and National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) that has the potential to manage the country’s waste an in the process create more jobs for the people of Kenya.

“We implore the Ministry to look at executing this proposal owing to its potential to create sustainable economic growth,” said the industrialists.

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