- Scrap metal dealers are now pushing for tough penalties slapped on the smugglers of the materials outside the country.
The call comes in the wake of the proliferation of the illegal business especially along the Kenyan borders with her neighours.
Scrap metal dealers are now pushing for tough penalties slapped on the smugglers of the materials outside the country.
The call comes in the wake of the proliferation of illegal business especially along the Kenyan borders with her neighbours.
“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,” Battery Manufacturers Association spokesman Peter Wafula said.
They have blamed weak enforcement, especially revocation of licences of those caught in the vice, by the scrap metal council and police officers, for the escalation of the illegal business.
“The Council should have by now canceled licenses of all the traders whose trucks were intercepted and charged in court,” Wafula reckoned.
The dealers lamented that in the past week, Kenya Revenue Authority officials have intercepted at least five trucks exporting scrap batteries to Tanzania through the Taveta border point.
KRA officer in charge of the station Peter Kiilu said that his officers have intensified surveillance along the Kenya-Tanzania border but called on well-concerted efforts by the security personnel to fight the vice.
Under the Scrap Metal Act, those found exporting scrap metal are liable to a fine of Sh10 million or a three-year jail term.
While police officers manning the border points have been blamed for not doing enough to arrest the culprits, the Scrap Metal Council has also been accused of not enforcing the law which demands that the licences of those found exporting scrap metal be canceled.
Dealers now want the government to disband the Scrap Metal Council saying it is the weakest link in the fight against the increase of smuggling of materials to neighbouring countries.
They have called on Trade and Industrialization Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria to walk the talk of protecting Kenyan industries by disbanding the council.
“The council is toothless in curbing the illegal trade. It is high time that the CS stamps authority and disband the council,” Wafula said.
He called on Kuria to replace the current members of the council with those who understand how the industry operates to save dealers who are almost being driven out of business.
“The council is toothless, it cannot bite, 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,” Wafula maintained.
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.
“This approach has really worked and has truly borne fruit, with arrests of the offenders dealing with hazardous waste along our porous borders,” he said.
Wafula urged the Kenyan authorities to cooperate with their Tanzanian counterparts to curb the illegal trade of scrap batteries so that business locally can thrive.
KRA also wants other state agencies involved in the control of illegal trade including Nema and county governments to join in the fight.
“It has become a very serious problem here, unscrupulous traders operate with impunity and export the prohibited materials like there is no law in Kenya,” lamented Kiilu.
Scrap metal in Tanzania is in high demand, a move that is now forcing local dealers to use illegal means to export the materials.
Under the law export of scrap metal is prohibited but unscrupulous traders have been capitalising on the porous Kenya-Tanzania and Uganda borders to smuggle 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 former President Uhuru Kenyatta imposed a ban on scrap metal business following a surge in vandalism of critical national assets including power transformers.