By Kebba Jeffang The National Environment Agency (NEA) has on Tuesday, 21st June, 2015 charged and summoned 15 business owners to the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court. The NEA special task force responsible for implementing the ban on the manufacture, sale and use of plastic bags in the country was engaged in a daylong searching operation on businesses within the Greater Banjul Area. The task force committee comprising the NEA officials, and police and immigration officers visited supermarkets including the Kairaba Shopping Center, Harry’s Supermarket, Reem Supermarket and Sunu Kerr Supermarket who were all served with summonses. Many big shops were also visited that are situated in the Serekunda market. Most of the 15 businesses that were served with the summonses claimed that they heard that the ban on plastic bags has been extended and that’s why they are selling and packaging their products for customers. They will be answering to the charge on Tuesday next week. The summons obtained from the NEA prosecuting officer contains the following information: STATEMENT OF OFFENCE Sale and use of plastic bags in the Gambia contrary to Section 4 Subsection (B&C) of the ban on plastic bags order (2015). PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE For that you did on or about 21st July, 2015 at Serekunda and surrounding places in the Kanifing Municipality in the Republic of the Gambia, you unlawfully and willfully sale and use plastic bags, a banned product in the Republic of the Gambia, thereby causing an offence. This therefore requires you to appear at Magistrate Court on Tuesday, 29th July, 2015 at the hour of 9am in the forenoon of the same day to answer to the said complaint and to be further dealt with according to law. Meanwhile, a document shared with journalists signed by the president has spelt out the offences and penalties as follows;
- A person who contravenes this Order commits an offence and is liable on conviction, in the case of
- A manufacturer or an importer, to term of imprisonment of not less than six months but not more than twelve months or a fine not less than two hundred thousand dalasis but not more than five hundred thousand dalasis or both the fine and imprisonment;
- An individual who sells plastic bags is liable to a fine not less than two thousand dalasis but not more than five thousand dalasis.
- An individual who uses plastic bags is liable to a fine not less than one thousand dalasis but not three thousand dalasis.
- All persons convicted under this Order shall be dispossessed of any available stock either in the form of raw materials or finished bags and those bags shall be taken to the appropriate store established, identified or recommended by the Agency.