Thousands of jobs float away after Kenya imposes plastic bags ban

KAM has listed 10 manufacturers it said had by yesterday ceased operations as a result of the ban.

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“We are talking of 60,000 direct jobs...then there are indirect jobs the traders and the people they employ, transporters and others along the value chain,” said KAM sector manager Samuel Matonda in a statement.

Despite Environment secretary Judi Wakhungu dismissing the 60,000 job losses figure as an “exaggeration”, plastic bag manufacturers have sent hundreds of workers home hours after the August 28th ban deadline kicked off yesterday.

“We have shut down, I have sent home 450 workers,” Dip Shah, the director of Nairobi-based manufacturer of plastic bags PIL told a local business daily.

“We are all stuck; we don’t know what to do.”

KAM has listed 10 manufacturers it said had by  ceased operations as a result of the ban; Kensalt, Silpack industries, King plastics, General plastics, Polythene Industries, Poliflex Industries, Uni plastics, Hi-plast Ltd, Packaging masters and Comet plastics.

The proprietor of Laneed, which makes plastic bags for export, Das Shah also said the company had shut down its operations, a day after the ban.

“We have sent home 400 workers,” said Mr. Shah.

“I am devastated. I don’t know what to do now after building this company up for 25 years,” he added.

The company’s plant which is located on Nairobi’s Mombasa Road cost Sh1.14 billion to put up and had a monthly turnover of $1.5 million (about Sh154 million) according to Mr Shah.

“I have paid all the workers today and relived them of their duties,” he said.

Safepack, another company that employs 700 workers and produces packaging materials for consumer goods firms also said it had suspended its operations for lack of poly bags.

“It’s a real concern for us,” said Safepack’s managing director, Tushar Shar, while however acknowledging that companies involved in production of primary packaging material such as his were exempted from the plastic bag ban.

As a result of the job losses many Kenyans while enjoying a cleaner environment may not necessarily be smiling all the way to the bank.

It is also feared prices of food items initially packed in plastic bags may go up as manufactures switch to other biodegradable materials.

Economists have also warned that the Kenyan economy may take a hit before it recovers as a result of the ban.

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