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  • Writer's pictureDave Boniface

Plastic prison

In an attempt to find a positive focus for the recovering addicts slightly ahead of ‘just something to do’, a number of the young men have organised a clean-up team that can be hired to make the narrow alleyways more palatable and clear the congested sewer gulleys that are plagued by single-use plastics. The rotting aromatic waste is scooped into large plastic bags and loaded onto a steel push cart to be man hauled to a waste processing facility on the edge of Kibera. A small charge is collected from the affected residents and the profits are divided up amongst the young men. Remarkably most of them elect to save a small amount each week in a holding fund for a future they now aspire to.

Kibera in a very Kibera way complicates and hinders this process from all angles. Charging and collecting shillings from those with little income for disposing of waste is not easy. The purchase of the hand cart was made by outside supporters (just where do you securely night store a large hand cart?) and the processing facility charges the boys for each bag, eating into their micro profits. Then there are the waste bags themselves.

Not wanting to be outdone by Rwanda and Morocco, the Kenya government green-washed the use of single-use plastic five years ago and has started to enforce this on those that can afford it the least. Maintaining that the more expensive woven bags are reusable may be true but the practicalities and realities of the Chinese copies, which are not recyclable, have yet to be addressed. Failure to comply is reinforced with a possible four years of custody.

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