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We Will Weed Out Vandals From Sector, Say Metal Dealers

Scrap metal dealers in Central Rift have entered into partnerships with State agencies aimed at weeding out unscrupulous traders.

The traders under the United Scrap Metal Association (USMA) umbrella said they were holding deliberations with top officials from Kenya Power (KP), Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited (KETRACO) and Ministry of Roads, Transport, and Public Works to come up with the most effective ways of stopping vandalism of government infrastructure.

The association’s chairman Joseph Wandaka said the resolutions agreed on by the dealers who met in Nakuru on Wednesday include exposing any suspected vandalised property in the supply chain to relevant state agencies and handing over culprits to the police for further action.

“If we find any of our members with scrap metal suspected to have been vandalised from public infrastructure, we will take them to the police ourselves. We have put our members on notice not to buy stolen materials. We are sorry that our sector has been mentioned in the vandalism and we are ready to work with the government stop the menace,” Mr Wandaka said.

The chairman termed vandalism of power lines and other investments as economic sabotage and called for stiffer penalties against those caught engaging in the vice.

He urged the state agencies to embrace innovation by deploying Information Communication Technology to protect all the road signs, metal barriers, electric poles and pylons and other critical infrastructure by embossing or engraving them with different serial numbers before installation.

While noting that some critical infrastructure prone to vandalism were in forests and remote areas away from public scrutiny, Mr Wandaka suggested that the embossed number be stored in a computer system, showing details such as location, so that in the event it is found at a scrap yard one can tell it was vandalised. If it was removed and sold by the institution as scrap metal, he added, then this should be captured on the system to clear the dealer.

He added, “If such a system is put in place it would be easy for law enforcement agencies to routinely visit scrap yards to check online if those metals they suspect are vandalised, were stolen or bought genuinely. The system will also enable scrap metal dealers to verify if metals brought in the yards are vandalised, through a computer or even phone (USSD code),”

Mr Wandaka disclosed that USMA members had also resolved to work with county police commanders as well as setting notices warning sale of stolen materials in all the registered yards.

The association’s meeting that brought together dealers from across the region agreed to vet their members and inspect their yards to enhance compliance.

The chairman warned that any dealer found to have bought vandalised metal will be delisted.

USMA vice chairperson Mr Samuel Wanjine indicated that they were supporting the government regulation of the trade and that the association ‘will put its house in order’ by profiling those selling stolen materials.

Mr Wanjine however called on the two levels of government to harmonise licensing of scrap metal business to make it sustainable noting that it was a source of direct and indirect employment for thousands of Kenyans.

He pointed out that “Scrap Metal Council domiciled in the Ministry of Trade and Industrialisation charges Sh50,000 for one to operate a yard, the County Governments demand payment of at least Sh100,000, while the National Environmental Management Authority’s scrap metal dealership license costs Sh30,000,”

USMA Treasurer Ms Teresia Waithera said the association had put in place infrastructure to streamline, collect data, profile and regulate scrap dealers.

She welcomed the public to join them to get rid of vandals.

Ms Waithera however observed that a legitimate dealer would not risk losing their costly license over stolen government infrastructure.

Statistics show that Kenya exported about 17, 874 and 12, 722 metric tons of scrap metals worth Sh5.9 billion and Sh4.5 billion in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

The Ministry of Energy and its agencies have been the most affected with its key critical infrastructure being the targets.

Scrap metals dealers engaging in illegal activities will have their licenses revoked, the government said last week as it announced new measures aimed at stemming the rising cases of vandalism.

Scrap Metal Council (SCM) said it will be gazetting the new inspectors who are going to be dispatched to various counties to help in monitoring the activities.

The team will be working closely with security in ensuring all licensed dealers comply with the existing law.

A raft of regulations, Council chairperson Francis Mugo noted, already formulated are also set to be gazetted.

“We are notifying all those trading in scrap metal without licenses that they risk being arrested and have their businesses closed as they face prosecution,” Mugo warned.

Source: Kenya News Agency