The public hearing on the EAC Polythene materials control bill 2011 is slated between 30, October and 5, November, the East African Legislative Assembly member (EALA) has announced.
The private member’s Bill seeks to prohibit trade in polythene materials unless special clearance is granted by the national environmental standards regulators.
Speaking to The New Times, yesterday, EALA member, Patricia Hajabakiga, said that the Bill to ban the production and use of polythene materials in the region would be tabled for consultations among the business community, local and central government leaders, civil society groups and the media in partner states.
“The meetings are meant to gather public views on the Bill before it is debated in the East African Parliament,” she said.
The EAC Polythene materials control Bill 2011, a Private Members' Bill introduced by Hajabakiga, sailed through the First Reading recently during the EALA session in Kigali.
“It’s no longer my private bill; it’s now the East Africa parliament bill; so we are going to be divided into teams of EALA members who will go to Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda for consultations on the bill,” she explained.
“For the case of Kenya, all of us shall meet there to sensitise the people and get views from them because this is where the bill is facing stiff opposition.”
Hajabakiga observed that the members would only visit Rwanda for best practices only. Rwanda is the only EAC partner state that has successfully banned the use and manufacture of all plastic bags since 2008.
The joint committee will produce a report which will be presented in the House when the Bill comes up for its second reading in due course.
Since the introduction of the bill, it has already received opposition from Kenyan plastic industry players who fear for their investments.
By press time, efforts to reach Hon. Tsungu Safina Kwekwe, Kenyan EALA member who doubles as the Chairperson of the Committee on Tourism and Natural Resources which oversees environment issues, were futile as she could not answer our repeated calls.
According to Daniel Kidega, EALA Member from Uganda, protection of the environment should not be delayed and under looked as regional integration deepens.
“We shouldn’t look at the aspect of integrating economically and politically only; we should ensure the safety of our environment and the people. I personally support the bill to ban the use of polythene bags which destroy our environment,” he said.