Musa Radoli @PeopleDailyKe
The local scrap metal industry continues to boom and appear destined to remain one of the most profitable ventures in many years to come.
However, one thing many Kenyans don’t realise is that while scrap metal dealers could be laughing all the way to the bank, some firms which have become the source of these metals are on the brink of collapse.
Right from Kenya – Uganda border county towns through Nyanza, Rift Valley, Nairobi, Central, Eastern, North Eastern all the way to the coast, there is no town with thriving scrap metal trade that has been left unscathed, or so it seems.
The crux of the matter is that scrap metal dealers are making a killing from smuggling these metals because of the high demand for the commodity. This is despite the fact the government in collaboration with other East African Community (EAC) member states banned this trade more than five years ago.
Those bearing the brunt across the country include Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) and Kenya Urban Roads Authority infrastructure.
Outdoor advertising firms and others who invest billions of shillings to erect steel structures on which to mount adverts from their clients have also been sucked into the multi-billion-shilling problem.
Telecom companies are also not spared as their equipment so long as they are metallic are prime targets.
Manhole covers, street lighting posts and anywhere the scrap mental hunters will gain access to, including domestic house windows, doors and frames are also not safe.
Kenya Power has been reporting annual loss of between Sh1 billion and Sh3 billion due to vandalism of its property that end up being sold to scrap metal dealers across the country while Telkom Kenya last year reported losses of up to Sh284 million due to vandalism and terrorism.
Kenya Power Managing director Ken Tarus says transformers, cross metal bars and cables stolen caused the firm to lose billions of shillings – hence the genesis of its “Mulika Mwizi” campaign.“KPLC loses almost 3,000 transformers annually and about 200,000 metres of cable to thieves,” he says.
It is as a result of this that pressure has over the years been mounting for the legislation to control the trade forcing the National Assembly Committee on Implementation to summon Industry Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohammed to explain why the law signed by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2015 had not been implemented.
After a delay of more than two years the Scrap Metal Act came into effect in April this year, and the ministry has threatened to crack the whip.
For many years, the Environmental Action Forum has been pushing for the commencement of the Act to reduce vandalism and deal with rogue traders.
The group’s chairman, Prof Karanja Njoroge said the scrap metal industry has served as an avenue for politicians to raise money for their campaigns. The Forum includes industrialists, the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) and the Scrap Metal Association (SMA) and other related organizations.
“Perhaps that is why there was a delay in the passing of this vital law to protect critical structures that are the hub of our country’s economy. It is paramount that the Scrap Metal Council is empowered with the necessary tools and agents to strictly enforce the law,” Prof Njoroge said.