Press Center | Freight Shipping Logistics News
The mystery surrounding the imported waste intercepted at the Mombasa port a fortnight ago took a new twist on Sunday when it emerged that the UK firm that shipped the cargo could have made a false declaration. The cargo is still lying at the port of Mombasa despite an order that it be returned to its country of origin, the UK.
According to documents seen by the Nation, the firm, Rashi UK Ltd, had declared the cargo as plastic waste and scrap but initial investigations by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) had revealed that it contained e-waste.
Mr Wachira Bore, the Mombasa county director of environment, said that though most of the impounded cargo was waste paper, there was some e-waste.
Efforts to get a comment from the UK firm were unsuccessful as they did not respond to emails.
It has also emerged that records of the firm that was to receive the consignment locally, Vinz Plastics Limited, could not be found at the Registrar of Companies. A physical check for the company’s listed location in Katani, Athi River, also drew a blank.
Environmental experts have warned that failure to close loopholes on e-waste disposal could lead to adverse environmental impacts.
Mr Wachira said the fourty-foot container raised suspicion at the port given that Sh100,000 had already been paid as duty and the exporter claimed to have communicated with Nema.
“We alerted Nema and police about the contents and it is now being handled at the national level to establish the actual reason behind the importation of the waste,” Mr Wachira said.
The 2012 national environment policy notes that like many other countries in Africa, Kenya is vulnerable to illegal dumping of obsolete and banned toxic and hazardous substances.
On Sunday, a former Merchant Shipping Superintendent Captain John Odhach, asked the government to enforce the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code which provides a standardised and consistent international framework for identifying and evaluating security risks to ships and port facilities.
“The code is specifically designed to cover security in regard to terrorism and environment,” he said.
Captain Odhach said ships had no problem carrying any cargo as long as it is duly declared.
On the seized container, he said “the declaration seems to have been fake.”
The nature of the waste in the container shipped from the UK is yet to be established although Nema ordered that it be returned to its country of origin. However, by Sunday, the container was yet to leave the port of Mombasa.
Nema had earlier said that the importation of medical, electronic and plastic waste was illegal and that Kenya did not allow the importation of garbage.
The importation of the contravenes international treaties on trans-boundary transportation of waste known as the Basel Convention and the Rotterdam Convention.
The Basel Convention was adopted in 1989 after a public outcry following the discovery, in the 1980s, in Africa and other parts of the developing world of deposits of imported toxic wastes.
The treaty was designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries.
The Rotterdam Convention promotes open exchange of information and calls on exporters of hazardous chemicals to use proper labelling, including directions on safe handling, and inform purchasers of any known restrictions or bans.
Though Nema termed the importation of the garbage as illegal, efforts to get a comment from Nema director-general Geoffrey Wahungu and compliance director Benjamin Langwen on the return of the consignment or on progress of the investigations have not borne fruit since Friday.
Nema has the mandate to take all practical steps to ensure that waste is managed in a manner that protects human health and the environment against the adverse effects which may result from the waste.
According to the 1999 Environmental Management and Coordination Act, transportation of waste requires a valid licence to transport waste.
“Any person intending to transport waste within Kenya, operates a wastes disposal site or plant or generates hazardous waste shall prior to transporting the wastes, commencing with the operation of the wastes disposal site of plant or generating hazardous waste, as the case may be, apply to the authority in writing for the grant of appropriate licence,” reads part of the Act.
The law also forbids the exportation of waste to any country from Kenya without a valid permit granted by Nema and written consent given by a competent authority of the receiving country. In April last year, Nema raised the red flag over the manner in which medical and electronic waste was being disposed.
It had warned that the poor disposal of used needles, syringes and other toxic waste on uncontrolled dumping sites had become a major threat to the public health.
What law says on waste management
Waste Management Regulation (2006) Part 11 7
(1): No person shall be granted a licence under the Act to transport waste unless such a person operates a transportation vehicle approved by the authority upon the recommendation of the relevant lead agency
(2): Any vehicle used for transportation of waste or any other means of conveyance shall be labelled in such a manner as may be directed by the authority.
(3): The authority in consultation with the relevant lead agency may designate particular geographical areas as areas for operation for licensed waste transporters.
(4): An application for a licence to transport waste shall be in form I of the first schedule to these regulations and shall be accompanied by the prescribed fee set out in the second schedule.
(5): A licence issued under the Act for the transportation of waste shall be in form II of the first schedule to these regulations and shall be valid for one year form the date of issue.
Waste Transporters responsibilities are stated in Part 11 section 8(1-3) and 9 and states that:
(8): Any person granted a licence to transport waste shall ensure that
(1) The collection and transportation of such waste is conducted in such a manner that will not cause scattering of the waste.
(2)The vehicles and the equipment for the transportation of waste are in such a state that shall cause no scattering of, or flowing out of waste emissions of noxious smell from such waste.
(3)The vehicles of transportation and other means of conveyance of waste follow the scheduled routes approved by the authority from the point of collection to the disposal site or plant; and
(4)He or his agents possess at all times during transportation of the waste , a dully filled tracking document as set out in form 111 in the first schedule of these regulations and shall produce the same such tracking document on demand to any law enforcer.
(9)Any person licensed to transport waste shall collect waste from the designated area of operation and shall deliver such waste to the designated disposal site or plant
PARASTATAL heads who signed the Mombasa port community charter risk being sacked if their agencies do not deliver on the contents of the new entity. The charter signed between the government and the private sector aims at improving the movement of cargo from the port into hinterland