An estimated 400,000 jobs within the Country’s wholesale, retail and packing sectors of our formal economy are set to be lost by August this year
when the decision by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources to ban the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags came into effect.
The Kenya Union of Printing, Publishing, Paper Manufacturers, Pulp and Packaging Industries Workers as the Union that represent Workers in the Sector has also established that a further 1.2 million Kenyans that depend on the Sector indirectly are at a risk of losing their source of livelihoods and plunge the Country into a further unemployment tumorsa timewhen Youth unemployment in the Country has been on the increase over the Years.
At the same time another 500,000 jobs are now vulnerable if the ban is imposed in various Industries that depend on the Sector including the Agricultural sector which need plastic bags as a standard requirement especially for export partners in Europe and Arabia, small scale farms around the country that package all food items in plastic packaging ensures its freshness, meat and Daily companies will be unable to package goods and may be forced to close down as well as Bakeries and vegetable vendors.
Equally, the Country’s overall economy will be hit as all polythene bag dealers in retail and wholesale outlets all boast of an annual turnover of close to Kshs. 100 Billion with a kshs 88 billion investment in the sector hence the move will no doubt slow down our economy.
It is against this background that KUPRIPUPA Union calls upon the Kenya government through the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources to shelve the ban on all polythene bags and instead seek alternative measures of curbing the so-called polythene bags menace in the country including instituting punitive measures and fives towards uncontrolled waste disposal of polythene under the National Environment Management Authority, (NEMA) as well as introduce a waste-Management levy to be charged at source to all plastic raw materials and finished goods and such move will no doubt address the problem without pushing more Kenyans out of Employment.
To this end, as a major player in the Sector we call upon he Government to be alive to the fact that any such decision taken without extensive consultations and involvement of all Key players in the sector is likely to result into unprecedented and serious industrial disharmony in the Country and as workers we should not carry the blame and we call upon our National Centre, COTU (K) to urgently convene a meeting of all affected union, with a view to taking a position on the matter.
Rajabu W. Mwondi, EBS