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The national environment watchdog has ordered the return to the United Kingdom of 20 tonnes of waste imports.
Last week, the National Environment Management Authority’s investigators unearthed a scandal at the port of Mombasa involving the illegal importation of a 40-foot container load of solid waste from the UK.
Nema director-general Geoffrey Wahungu on Sunday said the importers of the cargo — medical, electronic and plastic waste — must return the garbage to the UK as its importation was illegal.
He noted that Kenya did not allow the importation of garbage.
“We never gave a licence to the importers to ship in solid waste from UK,” he said.
“It does not make sense for somebody to spend a fortune to import garbage from abroad while the waste is readily available in our towns,” he explained.
Prof Wahungu said this was the first time that Nema had discovered a container at the port containing solid waste.
This, he added, was after the agency recently opened offices at the port to help detect imported cargo that is not environmentally friendly.
He said Nema officials at the port launched investigations after getting a tip-off from some sources.
They eventually found the cargo at a container freight station at Kibarani, added the Nema boss.
When the container was opened, the officials found bales of compressed medical, electronic, polythene and plastic waste.
Port detectives, in collaboration with the Nema officers, brought in sniffer dogs in a bid to detect the contents of the waste consignment.
Prof Wahungu said the dogs, however, did not trace drug elements as they were unable to dig deeper into the tightly-fastened bales.
“We have taken some waste from the container for thorough examination at our laboratories to find out whether they have toxic elements,” he said.
Piles of garbage
“We are surprised that some investors can decide to import waste from the UK while our towns are overwhelmed with piles of garbage,” he added.
Speaking to the Nation at Kibarani, the Nema boss said he travelled to Mombasa to see the unusual imported cargo.
“I was amazed when my officers informed me that they had intercepted a container load of solid waste,” he said.
He added: “I came here to specifically see the imported garbage. Maybe it’s not the first time that waste has been shipped into our country.”
– Daily Nation