by Christine Lagat
NAIROBI, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government on Wednesday reiterated its commitment to hold dialogue with manufacturers to end stalemate over enforcement of a plastic ban.
Director General of National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Geoffrey Wahungu, said that structured discussions with industry will commence soon to find an amicable solution to rows linked to a plastic ban that came into force on Monday.
"Our doors are open to manufacturers of plastic packaging materials seeking clarity on the ban that came into force two days ago. We have maintained that the ban only affects a limited component of plastic bags and have no intention to close factories that employ thousands of Kenyans," said Wahungu.
He spoke in Nairobi during a meeting with members of Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) who expressed reservation on the implementation of the ban.
Wahungu said the state will in future hold a series of dialogue forums with industry to shed light on the legal framework governing a ban on manufacture and use of plastic bags.
"The plastic ban that has received overwhelming support from the public is part of a national solid waste management and is not meant to stifle industrial progress in the country," Wahungu said.
He said the plastic ban exempts industrial packaging, fast-moving consumer goods, pharmaceutical products and large polythene bags used for garbage collection in cities.
Kenya enforced the historic plastic ban on Aug. 28 earning the East African Nation an enviable position in green stewardship.
The manufacturing sector, however, was opposed to the plastic ban, terming it a threat to job creation and income generation.
A court case filed by the manufacturing lobby was suspended last week, paving way for its enforcement.
KAM CEO Phyllis Wakiaga said investors were not opposed to the plastic ban but wanted clarification on how it will impact on businesses.
"As manufacturers, we have always supported a balance between environmental sustainability and economic growth. We look forward to fruitful dialogue with the state to clear the air on contentious issues surrounding the plastic ban," said Wakiaga
KAM Director and Head of the Legal Committee, Mucai Kunyiha, added that it is important that new terminologies that are being introduced as part of exemptions or new directives are understood uniformly by all stakeholders.
"The issue of waste is a complicated matter that needs the collaboration of all stakeholders. If a body like NEMA does not have the capacity to manage waste nationally, it is impossible for us as the business community to do it solely, as expressed in the extended producer responsibility directive issued by NEMA, just last week," Kunyiha said.