Police issue stern warning against smugglers of Polythene bags
Rwanda National Police (RNP) has issued a stern warning against people who attempt to smuggle plastic bags in the country. The warning comes after Police, on April 21, intercepted a group of smugglers trying to sneak 80 packets of non-biodegradable polythene bags in the country through the hills of Cyuve Sector in Musanze District.
Police had received information about the three suspected smugglers and conducted an operation to arrest them but when they saw the police from a distance they dumped the load and ran back to the hills. It was later realized that apart from the 80 packets of polythene bags, smugglers were also attempting to sneak in 40 cartons of blue sky â€“ a banned gin.
In a related incident, early this month, Police in Ngoma District arrested Tharcisse Hakizimana and Theoneste Twizeyimana attempting to smuggle in the country 120kg of the banned polythene bags.
Reacting to the incidents, the Director of Environmental Protection Unit at Rwanda National Police Superintendent of Police (SP) Modeste Mbabazi warned against anyone who smuggle, attempt to sell or circulate non-biodegradable plastic bags saying that, â€œWe warn anyone who attempted to deal in polythene bags that it is illegal and punishable by law. The police are on alert at all times to apprehend and charge whoever violates the law.â€
He added that, â€œUse of plastic bags is prohibited since 2008. From then, we have put up several mechanisms including legal provisions against use of plastic bags.Â We have also encouraged the public to be alert and report anybody dealing in any materials that degrade the environment.â€
He noted that the public is a key player in the fight against unscrupulous people who smuggle and trade in polythene bags and other items that threaten the environment and peopleâ€™s lives.
â€œWe have intensified monitoring to crackdown on such smugglers, whom we believe smuggle the polythene bags from neighbouring countries and sneak them into the country through porous borders,â€ said SP Mbabazi.
According to Article 433 of the Penal Code, â€œany person who sells polythene without authorisation shall be liable to a fine of Rwf10, 000 to Rwf300, 000.
Using polythene bags also attracts a fine of up to Rwf100, 000, but in case the person repeats the offence, the penalty is doubled.
Rwanda with a vision to maintain a clean, healthy and wealthy environment has by law banned the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags. Rwanda has etched its name in the global environmental records for successfully managing to abolish the use polythene that are a threat to the ecosystem.