- Nema Tuesday said it had not sanctioned the arrest of people found with the prohibited polyethene bags.
- At Engineer market in Kinangop, some officers raided the open air market where they arrested several women.
- Similar incidents were reported at Njabini and Ndaragwa markets.
Police and county askaris in parts of Nakuru and Nyandarua have been accused of extorting money from residents following the ban of plastic bags by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema).
This is despite a clarification by Nema on Tuesday that it had not sanctioned the arrest of people found with the prohibited polyethene bags.
By Tuesday, traders had not secured the recommended alternative packaging bags and were at loss on what to use.
At Engineer market in Kinangop, some officers raided the open air market where they arrested several women before releasing them in unclear circumstances.
“They pounced as I was opening my stall and demanded to search for the plastic bags. I had six of them packed with some personal items. I was arrested and taken around the town where some more traders were arrested," said Ms Faith Nyawira, a trader in the open air market.
She said those set free had to part with between Sh500 to Sh1000.
Similar incidents were reported at Njabini and Ndaragwa markets.
In Ol Kalou Town, county askaris faced similar accusations targeting small-scale traders and customers.
“They found a stock of 3kgs of maize flour packaged in plastic bags and some snacks and ordered me to close the shop and follow them. I negotiated with them before they left warning they will soon be back,” said James Mwangi, a kiosk operator in Ol Kalou Town.
He claimed that a number of his friends doing similar business had to part with some money for their release.
The askaris began raiding the kiosks, as well as targeting pedestrians as early as 6am.
County Environment Executive Committee Member Martin Kimani warned the county askaris against harassing members of the public or engaging in extortion.
“We have not received a Nema directive to make any arrests. When that is done, the operation will be conducted in a sober transparent manner and enforcement officers will have identification cards. The public should follow the law and avoid bribing any officer,” said Mr Kimani.
Butchers used old newspapers to wrap meat, saying they were still waiting for the recommended papers to arrive.
It was the same story in Nakuru with county askaris arresting a few traders who had packed their products in plastic bags.
The traders claimed ignorance saying they didn’t think the ban would be that serious as Kenyans are used to the last minute rush.