I don’t know about you, but there is little compliance to the plastic paper ban since July 1, the day we were told, in strong tones, that government will resume enforcement.
Apart from major retails, mostly South African corporations like Game Stores, Shoprite and Pep Stores, the picture out there is business as usual.
I have been to Blantyre Market not twice but thrice since July 1. Those boys with banned plastic papers are still everywhere making a buck. In fact, none of the four boys I talked to separately has an idea of the ban and it’s enforcement.
I have been to many fast food eateries in Blantyre, mostly those run by Indians because they are predominant. I have been shocked, as I am right now, that they still throw your take way in banned plastic papers which are below 60 microns.
I am saying I have been to many retail shops, including big ones in town and some sizeable superettes spread in our townships, but the picture I got is nothing unusual.
I mean, I sneaked to Limbe twice last week, inspecting large wholesalers where retailers, both ruffed ones and larger shops buy these plastics, and I have been baffled by piles of stocks that keep filling these shops.
In these wholesalers, I shudder to mention, I have seen, in the morning, long queues of retailers buying large stocks of plastic papers, and when I return in the afternoon, I found new stocks all over again.
The picture I have gathered, 10 days after the resumption of the plastic paper ban enforcement is that business is going as usual.
There is still a steady production of these banned plastic papers by manufacturers. There is still a steady circulation of these banned plastic papers by retailers. And there is still a steady use of these banned plastic papers by the public, of course, minus me and Dorothy Tembo from the Centre of Environmental Policy and Advocacy (Cepa).
The issue of not using plastic papers that are not less than 60 microns is not negotiable. In fact, we are an apologetic nation; that is why we tolerate even those above 60 microns. Ask well travelled people like Peter Mutharika, Chris Chisoni, Lucius Banda, William Chanza and Sosten Chiotha if there is a serious nation out here that allows even plastic papers above 60 microns. They don’t. That is why, just after returning from Shangai, China, last week, my friend Cassim Daud was surprised that you can hardly see a shop throwing what you have bought in plastic papers. It is always paper carriers, he said, adding: “Now I know why for two weeks I was there I never saw a piece of dirt in their cities.”
But it is not just about the dirt. The plastic papers which we are reluctant, as a nation, to stop using are detrimental to the environment. They just do not compose. This is destroying the same soil that we want to use to feed ourselves and generations to come. The more we resist their abandonment, the more we rob our children of a better future.
That is why I was quite riled reading a story quoting a plastic manufacture saying banning plastic papers will cost jobs. That is rubbish. In fact, the reporter who did the story committed a publlic sin by only telling the story from the side of plastic manufacturers whom we know are greed capitalists bent on destroying Malawi.
The ‘costing job’ argument is rubbish because it presupposes governemnt just woke up and announced the ban. It is not. Consultations with these greedy capitalists started before 2013. And it was in 2013 when government announced the ban. However, the enforcement, due to some monkey business, was stayed until July this year to give room to the greedy capitalists to adjust properly. They had two years to prepare themselves.
Granted, should we really, today, listen to them again? Serious? Me and Dorothy are saying Nooooo! Death to greedy capitalists.
This is time to act. When I interviewed on the ban, Bright Msaka, Minister of Natural Resource, Energy and Mining during the World Environmental Day commemorations in Balaka, he underlined and I quote : ‘Enough is Enough, we are not turning back’.
Two weeks have passed now since July 1, where is that ‘enough is enough ‘Mr Msaka? You should have been joking, Sir. Thanks. n