Even as manufacturers and traders celebrate a High Court ruling that temporarily suspended a ban on the use and sale of non-woven carrier bags by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), they should not rest on their laurels.
While pertinent points were raised in their objections to the ban, one major point that should not be forgotten is that we must all ensure that we protect our environment.
The environment regulator should also shoulder part of the blame for issuing directives without consulting the main stakeholders.
When Kenya rolled out the ban on plastic bags in July 2017, it received worldwide plaudits for taking a huge step in protecting the environment.
Manufacturers of plastic bags opposed the ban and cited the closure of their factories and loss of jobs as consequences of the ban.
But once the ban was effected, the manufacturers had to improvise and come up with the non-plastic carrier bags.
However, their relief was dashed recently after Nema announced that it would ban the manufacture and use of non-woven carrier bags, citing their poor quality and non-reusability.
It set March 31 as the deadline and warned that those found flouting the regulation faced arrest and prosecution.
We aver that as the main stakeholders await a legal resolution to the impasse, the policymakers should burn the midnight oil and come up with solutions that will help protect the environment.
One factor that cannot be ignored is that a viable solution cannot be achieved unilaterally. Nema should work together with the manufacturers in coming up with a long-term solution.
The environment belongs to all of us hence a solution must come from all.
It is indeed unfair to ignore the financial investment that manufacturers of the carrier bags and importers have put in when announcing bans.
The regulator should know that seeking environmental solutions should not always be retributive. At times consensus and dialogue can proffer better solutions than always wielding the stick at all and sundry.
We should not forget the elephant in the room. That is the protection of the environment for current and future generations . We should not forget that vital goal.
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