- The Scrap Metal Council is on the spot over the increased cases of smuggling of scrap metals, with the dealers calling for disbandment of the body.
- The Council, is the legal body mandated to curb the trade that has been prohibited by the country’s laws.
The Scrap Metal Council is on the spot over the increased cases of smuggling of scrap metals, with the dealers calling for disbandment of the body.
The council, is the legal body mandated to curb the trade that has been prohibited by the country’s laws.
Dealers have said that smuggling of scrap metal especially used batteries has been rampant in the recent past with KRA officials having to come in to arrest the situation.
As such, industry players are now calling on Trade CS Moses Kuria to either disband the Council or pick new members who understand the industry.
“People are smuggling scrap metals as if there is no law. The council should move in and cancel licenses of those involved in the vice,” said Peter Wafula of battery Manufacturers Association.
Battery manufacturers have already expressed fears that they will soon run short of raw materials following increased exportation of scrap batteries to Tanzania.
Wafula disclosed that the Council’s presence has not been felt since inception adding that most of its members are people who are not conversant with the industry.
“The Council should have by now cancelled licenses of traders whose trucks were intercepted and charged in court,” Wafula said.
Under the law export of scrap metal is prohibited but unscrupulous traders have been capitalizing on the porous Kenya/ Tanzania and Uganda borders to smuggle the materials.
In the last two months KRA officials have intercepted trucks ferrying scrap batteries to Tanzania but this has not stopped the traders from smuggling the scrap materials since they are licensed to operate.
Sources indicate that the trucks belong to a trader known to many including the regulator, but has not acted to punish the said businessman for breaking the law.
Yesterday morning KRA officials intercepted a truck belonging to the same operator who has had three of his trucks intercepted and drivers charged for ferrying scrap batteries to Tanzania.
KRA officials at the Taveta border point are also calling on security personnel to assist in curbing the vice by arresting those transporting illegal materials through the area.
“It had become a very serious problem here, unscrupulous traders operate with impunity and export prohibited materials like there is no law in Kenya,” lamented Peter Kiilu the officer in-charge of the Taveta station.
Wafula is at the same time urging the government to cooperate with Tanzania to curb the illegal trade of scrap batteries so that business locally can thrive.
“The situation is getting serious and if not controlled, local manufacturers will have to close or scale down operations due to lack of raw materials,” Wafula said.
Reports indicate that scrap metal in Tanzania is in high demand, a move that is now forcing local dealers to use illegal means to export the materials.
In May last year, the government issued strict regulations that require licensed scrap metal dealers to transport their cargo between 6.30 am and 6.30 pm.
With the new regulations in place, the government lifted a January 20, 2022 ban that President Uhuru Kenyatta imposed on scrap metal business following a surge in vandalism of critical national assets including power transformers.
The new rules impose a Sh10 million fine or a three-year jail term to anyone found operating without a license.
Repeat offenders are liable to a fine not exceeding Sh20 million or imprisonment for not more than five years. Export of scrap metal under the new rules remains restricted.
The multi-agency team comprises officers from the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and the Kenyan Revenue Authority among others.
Last year, Nema Director-General Mamo Mamo said that the authority, in partnership with other relevant government agencies, had adopted an intelligence-based enforcement approach, where they gather intelligence before striking.
Last year, the KRA deputy commissioner in charge of the western region Pamela Ahago said despite the business being outlawed, some traders were still exporting scrap automotive batteries using the porous border points.
Two drivers were jailed last year for transporting scrap batteries to Tanzania and the trucks confiscated by the State as the law stipulates.
The two drivers were convicted and fined Sh300, 000 and their trucks forfeited to the state in line with the provisions of the Scrap Metal Act.
Kenya banned the export of scrap metals, which includes spent-lead-acid–batteries (SLABs), through the law enacted in 2015.
The East African region has two lead-acid battery manufacturers, namely Associated Battery Manufacturers and Uganda Batteries Limited who produce about 30 per cent of the East African market requirement.