Police in Burera District have seized about 24,000 banned non-biodegradable plastic bags and arrested four women smuggling them.
According to the Northern Region police spokesman, IP Innocent Gasasira, the suspects were traveling in a public bus along the Burera-Musanze road.
“One of the passengers noticed that the women were acting strange and became suspicious of their luggage, and notified the police,” Gasasira explained. “A checkpoint was put up in Gahunga sector, and when the bus was stopped and checked officers found the non-biodegradable bags belonging to the for women.”
“We later found out that the four women were actually on a watchlist of people suspected to be trafficking banned substances and plastic bags into the country,” he added.
“Although smuggled plastic bags are not a big problem, border districts are prone to them. The fight against the sale and use of plastic bags is part of our usual operations. It is a national policy that we implement together with other institutions like the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) and the population, who are the source of information,” Gasasira remarked.
The law stipulates that anyone who sells banned plastic bags faces a penalty of between Rwf 10,000 and Rwf 300,000 while buyers are fined between Rwf 5,000 and Rwf 100,000.
Non-biodegradable polythene bags have been outlawed in the country since 2008. Most plastic bags are said to be sold or used in remote shops, bakeries, and butcheries.