public shaming and even prison for plastic bag use in rwanda
Sometimes they are stuffed into bras, hidden in underwear, or wrapped tightly around the smugglers arms.
They are not drugs or even illegally mined gold and diamonds that often cross the border into Rwanda.
But they are evil, at least in the eyes of the wary border guard, Egide mbelabagabo.
Illegal contraband? Plastic bags.
\"They are as bad as drugs,\" he said . \"
Mberabagabo, one of a dozen border officials, is working to catch smugglers and handle the illegal plastics he has found.
In Rwanda, it is illegal to import, produce, use or sell plastic bags and plastic packaging in addition to specific industries such as hospitals and pharmaceutical.
China is one of more than 40 countries in the world that ban, restrict or tax the use of plastic bags, including China, France and Italy.
However, Rwanda\'s approach is at another level.
Human traffickers found to carry illegal plastics may be fined, imprisoned or forced to plead guilty publicly.
Smugglers can be jailed for up to six months.
Executives of companies holding or making illegal plastic bags may be jailed for one year, officials said.
The shop was closed and fined for wrapping bread in glass paper, and the owner asked to sign a letter of apology
As part of the national environmental clean-up.
It takes hundreds of years for plastic bags to degrade, a major global problem that is considered to be the reason for blocking the ocean and killing marine life.
Last month, Kenya set a rule to punish anyone who makes, sells or imports plastic bags who will be sentenced to four years in prison or a fine of $19,000.
In Rwanda, the authorities said the bags would cause flooding and prevent crops from growing because the rain could not penetrate the soil when it was scattered in plastic.
The country\'s zero tolerance policy for plastic bags seems to pay off: Streets in the capital, Kigali, and elsewhere in this densely populated hilly country are almost spotless.
People often see men and women on the roads to clean up the garbage, and citizens need to take part in a large-scale community cleaning work every month, including the president. Plastic-
From the airport to the village, there were bags of duty officers everywhere who informed the authorities about the alleged sale or use of plastic.
The most recent afternoon
Border officer Mberabagabo investigated the crossing point with Congo (King), where thousands of people, goods and animals flow back and forth, with shouts, shouts and animals coming from time to time
Plastic buckets full of onions, eggplants, carrots, plantains and cassava roll over the heads of women marching in destinations, where they have places to go, make money, and eat.
Somewhere in the middle of them, they often wear women\'s underwear, sir.
There are hundreds of plastic bags, says Mberabagabo.
\"The most extreme situation is ladies,\" he said . \".
\"It\'s not easy to search for them,\" he added shyly . \".
An immigration officer who worked with him
Mberabagabo showed a middle video on his phone.
Elderly women caught transporting plastic bags wrapped in their arms.
In the video, she sobbed and apologized, blocking her eyes from the camera as if she were a drug dealer exposed during a sting operation on TV.
The official expressed awe and frustration at how far the smugglers will go, showing another video clip of a wheelchair that hides a bundle of tightly packed plastic bags.
He was smug as he boasted about how he found cheating.
Nearby, from plastic bags in large supermarkets to small, translucent plastic bags used to wrap sandwiches, are filled.
When officials searched their luggage and took a picture of the contestants, a large banner read: \"Use environmental protection bags \".
Rwanda is probably the cleanest country in Africa and one of the most primitive in the world.
Although at least 15 African countries have issued some sort of ban, many countries are still littered with plastic bags on their roads, stuck by drain pipes, or stuck by trees.
Cows will die when they eat bags because they will hinder digestion.
In informal settlements such as Kenya, plastic bags are sometimes used as \"flying toilets\" containing human waste \".
Of course, the continent faces many environmental threats, including poaching, water pollution and deforestation.
Some countries are trying to solve these problems, such as Gabon, where the president has turned himself into an environmental-conscious leader.
But many countries lack resources and political will.
In theory, the use of plastic bags is prohibited in Congo, but there is little indication that the ban has been enforced.
The capital of Congo, Kinsa, has so much garbage, most of which are packed in plastic bags that residents of the city have nicknamed the City \"poubelle\" or \"trash can.
\"In the Congo city of Goma, which is just bordering Rwanda, there is plastic garbage everywhere, because the Earth there is made of black volcanic rocks, so it becomes more conspicuous.
Like strange vegetation, clusters of colored plastic stretch out from the ground.
\"Rwanda is very clean,
It\'s very dirty in Congo. Richard Mumbere, a taxi driver in Congo, said.
\"Our government is not organized, so it is destroying the environment.
\"Going back to Rwanda and implementing the ban, which was first adopted in 2008, involves at least hundreds of rules that are difficult to follow.
Importers usually remove plastic packaging at customs unless doing so damages the goods, officials said.
In this case, the store needs to remove the package before handing over the item to the customer.
Food packed in glass paper is only allowed in the hotel and only if it does not leave the hotel.
The government says biodegradable bags are only allowed to be used for frozen meat and fish, not for other items such as fruits and vegetables, as they are still broken down for up to 24 months.
Only if the food that makes potato chips and other plastic packages is approved by the government --
After showing detailed business plans, including how they plan to collect and recycle their bags.
In this clean country, the results of Rwanda\'s efforts are obvious, but it may not be easy to replicate them.
For example, in the United States and Europe, there is a dispute between environmental activists and the representative of the plastic industry, who say bags made of alternative materials, such as cloth, are larger than the carbon footprint of plastic, and it\'s not as eco-friendly as people think.
Plastic bags should be reused and recycled, they believe.
The Rwandan authorities ignored criticism that there was no similar debate in the country.
The rules here are based on extensive scientific research and public surveys, they say.
In a country with authoritarian tendencies and no room for dissent, their enforcement is more acceptable.
Out of extreme anxiety about national security, President Paul Kagame has shaped a obedient, organized society of the rule of law --Law-abiding
The concern is that, after the 1994 genocide, citizens of a powerful government have become accustomed to killing nearly one million people in 100 days.
Tough execution is
Even in developing his country, the iconic style of Kagame is the same.
He asked all the people in Rwanda to wear shoes, eradicate the hut on the top of the thatched roof and ban the import of old clothes because he said it harmed dignity.
Teach children not to use plastic bags in school and cherish the environment.
Smugglers are often held in detention centres or forced to write themselves in newspapers or broadcast on radio.
The supermarket was shut down for selling plastic packaged food until they paid the fine and wrote an apology.
Two officials from the Rwanda Environmental Authority recently conducted spontaneous inspections of stores in Kigali posing as customers.
By the end of the hour, they had locked three stores and fined the owner several hundred dollars per person for selling bread wrapped in cellophane, pack flour using biodegradable or plastic instead of paper.
\"It\'s very bad,\" says Martine Uwera, an inspector who towering over the top of a shop employee, poked a loaf of bread wrapped in plastic with her fingers.
\"Please forgive us,\" the worker pleaded . \"
\"We don\'t know, we don\'t.
\"It\'s not fair,\" a colleague whispered \".
The banned bread was swept from the shelves into a basket that officials said would be distributed to hospitals, charities and orphanage.
The store was temporarily closed until the fine was paid and the owner signed a letter of apology.
Two nearby stores suffered a similar fate, one of which was particularly bad: it was fined and lost $650 worth of income, a large sum of revenue here.
Its owner, Emile Ndoli, a commercial baker, tried to negotiate with the inspector and there was an argument.
Bread wrapped in paper is worse than bread wrapped in plastic, he said.
In addition, he added that customers \"choose with their eyes.
\"What Rwanda is doing is 100% correct,\" he said, listening carefully and taking a sneak peek at the inspector standing next to him.
\"But I\'m also a businessman and I want a permanent solution that doesn\'t include losing money.