Smugglers frustrating anti-polythene bag policy--REMA

Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) has revealed that the  government’s efforts to ban the use of polythene bags in the country is a battle yet to be won.Speaking to The New Times yesterday, REMA’s Director General, Rose Mukankomeje, said that some businessmen and women were still importing these environmentally unfriendly plastic bags illegally, despite their ban over five years ago.

Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) has revealed that the  government’s efforts to ban the use of polythene bags in the country is a battle yet to be won.

Speaking to The New Times yesterday, REMA’s Director General, Rose Mukankomeje, said that some businessmen and women were still importing these environmentally unfriendly plastic bags illegally, despite their ban over five years ago.

Mukankomeje pointed out that although Rwanda Revenue Authority officials at the country’s border points have done a good job of fighting the entry of these bags in the country, there were still business operators who have always found ways of sneaking them in illegally.

She said that as a way of combating the vice, there was a government initiative to create a special department to deal with the eradication of polythene bags in business environments, like retail shops and market places.

“This inspection Department is under the Ministry of Commerce and will be hunting for plastic bags in all shops, markets, and other business places,” she said.

Mukankomeje insisted that, the campaign against polythene bags was still on and that it was not an easy one due to the size of the polythene bags still on the market, saying that they are small which make them easy to be smuggled into the country. 

REMA’s statement comes after the continued use of polythene bags by business persons for packaging especially of sugar, salt, bakeries, and other commodities.

To Mukankomeje, this is an indication that despite the fact that a lot has been achieved in the campaign, strict measures were still needed to completely abolish the harmful bags.

She urged all Rwandans to actively cooperate in the campaign by implementing the use of accepted paper bags.
“We have so far excelled in the battle, particularly those big plastic bags, but the uncooperative business persons who continue smuggling in the small ones remain a major hindrance,” she said adding that those found will be severely punished.

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