Separate security operations conducted in Musanze, Gicumbi and Burera districts on Sunday seized over 125kgs of banned plastic bags, which had been trafficked into the country through illegal borders.
At least 100kgs of non-biodegradable polythene bags were seized from three traffickers in Rubaya Sector of Gicumbi District.
Six other people were arrested in Gahama, Gakoro Cell of Gacaca Sector in Musanze with 25kgs of polythene bags.
Another suspect was arrested in Rukiko Village, Karangara Cell, Rugarama Sector in Burera with 50 pieces of plastic bags.
The Police spokesperson for the Northern region, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Alexis Rugigana said that the seized polythene bags are among outlawed goods seized from the suspects during separate operations.
“Other illegal goods seized from the arrested suspects include banned skin bleaching lotions and varied brands of illicit gin including Kanyanga,” CIP Rugigana said.
“Each of the three separate operations was based on credible information we received from residents after they saw the suspects sneaking the illegal goods into the country through illegal borders,” he added.
The suspects and their exhibits have been handed over to Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), he said
He said illicit traders often use porous entry points “but we are alert, communities on borderlines are equally responsive.”
Manufacturing, using, importing and selling polythene bags is prohibited in Rwanda.
Under article 7 of Law N°57/2008 of 10/09/2008, relating to the prohibition of manufacturing, importation, use and sale of polythene bags in Rwanda; industries which manufacture polythene bags, commercial companies or any person found in possession of prohibited polythene bags without authorization in their stores, manufacturing or using them, shall be punished by an imprisonment of six to twelve months and a fine of Rwf100, 000 to Rwf500, 000 or one of the two penalties.
Unauthorized sell of polythene bags also attracts a fine of between Rwf10, 000 and Rwf300, 000 while unauthorized use of non-biodegradable packaging products attracts a fine ranging from Rwf5000 to Rwf100, 000, under the same law.
In case of recidivism, the penalty is doubled.
On the other hand, the impounded skin bleaching products are among the 1,342 lotions, soaps and oil brands with hydroquinone and mercury prohibited in Rwanda.
Medics suggest that the two toxic chemicals; hydroquinone and mercury react with ultraviolet rays and lead to more pigmentation and premature aging.
The more these products are used the less melanin the body produces, and this leads to an increased risk for skin cancer.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), mercury in skin lightening soaps and creams has side effects on the kidney, cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections. Other effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy.