Kenya drafts law to regulate chemical imports

There should be a legislation framework for all African countries that subscribe to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), to ensure that trade in scheduled chemicals is regulated, as enshrined in the chemical weapons convention, Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has said.

Macharia cautioned against the use of toxic chemicals in the agriculture and industrial sectors, saying they could be precursors to chemical weapons. He said if these chemicals fall in the wrong hands, they could expose Kenyans to increased acts of terror, health and environmental hazards.

 “Kenya is however on the right track towards the fulfilment of this mandate because we already have a draft which when passed will regulate the acquisition and use of these chemical weapons in the country,” he said.

Destroying stockpiles

He however said most African nations do not have stockpiles of these chemical weapons as is the case in Europe, Asia, Middle East and America, some of which are still destroying their stockpiles.

“Even so, the risks are always there and that is why African governments should put in place measures for any potential harm,” he said.

Macharia was speaking during the official opening of the 12th regional meeting on national authorities of state parties to the chemical weapons convention in Africa in Nairobi yesterday.

He advised key stakeholders to work with various customs departments to identify the characteristics and the amounts of chemical farm imports by local farmers and industries and report any irregularities to OPCW offices.

Macharia noted that Kenya is a key transit border for about five Africans countries and there could be dangerous chemicals coming in through these routes.

“Some of these chemicals may not be harmful in the countries where they are coming from but once they enter Kenya, they could cause excessive levels of radiation, which may be dangerous for inhabitants,” he said.

Macharia urged African countries to work together to regulate chemical imports and exports.

This means Kenyan farmers and traders will only be allowed to import a certain amount of ammonium nitrate fertiliser, toxic farm inputs and other forms of chemicals once the draft law is approved.

The deputy government chemist Ali Gakwendi says farmers should be trained about the chemicals found in the farm inputs they handle and advised on the correct amount of these chemicals that should be purchased.