The Public Interest Stakeholders Committee on Scrap Metal Trade has asked Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Secretary Mr Adan Mohammed (pictured) to appoint the Scrap Metal Council to end equipment vandalism.
The advocacy group’s Spokesman Prof Karanja Njoroge said he is concerned that the law passed in 2014 has never been implemented over fears that the industry cartels have held government hostage.
"It is not clear why Mr Mohammed has been reluctant to appoint the board of the Council as required by law. This is is unacceptable", he said
Prof Njoroge’s concerns will be raised on Thursday, March 1, as his group comprising some representatives of state parastatals meet with the National Assembly Committee on Implementation.
“Believe it even the Scrap Metal Council envisaged as the agency in the Ministry of Industrialization to spearhead the implementation has never been constituted. In the meantime the same problems continue to persist. Theft and vandalisation of highway assets, ower cables; telecommunication infrastructure continue.
“We also are aware of illegal export of continued scrap metal and illegal smelters of lead that leave environmental degradation and risks to public health in many parts of our nation”, said Prof Njoroge.
Only the chairman of the Council was picked mid last year. Other members have not been appointed.
Members include Principal Secretaries for Transport and Industry, Commissioner General of Kenya Revenue Authority and the Inspector-General of Police
Other members shall be the Scrap Metal Dealers Association; Metal cottage industry; Kenya Association of Manufacturers; large utility companies or agencies in charge of infrastructure and the Consumer Federation of Kenya.
Over the years, Kenya Power, Telkom, Safaricom, Airtel, Kenya National Highway Authority, Kenya Railways and many other companies have lost huge sums of money over illegal activities around scrap metal business.
Full letter by Prof Njoroge to Clerk of the National Assembly:
14th February 2018
Clerk of National Assembly
Hon. Clerk of the Assembly
RE: IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SCRAP METAL ACT 2015, No. 1 of 2015
The Scrap Metal Act 2015 was assented on 7th January 2015, with a commencement date of 23rd January 2015. The Act seeks to make provisions for the regulation and management of the scrap metal industry in Kenya. It seeks to control and regulate the handling of scrap metal; the export of scrap metal; the licensing and registry of all scrap metal dealers and the provision for the establishment of a Scrap Metal Council for purposes of streamlining the management of the sector.
The enactment of this law was a result of many hours of work by our legislature as well as long and protracted efforts by many Kenyans of all walks of life; from industrialists, public asset managers, environmentalists, and the general public concerned about thefts of public assets – power and communication lines, highway guard rails, railway slippers etc which are being sold to unscrupulous scrap Metal Dealers. There were many who were concerned about “fly-by-night” smelters of scrap lead acid batteries (Automotive batteries) illicitly smelting the lead in very poor neighbourhoods leaving a wake of environmental contamination and high risks to public health.. We as Centre for Environmental Action were part of that effort.
Three years ago we all thought that we had dealt a blow to the unscrupulous dealers and operators in scrap metal industry bringing order to an otherwise chaotic situation. Unfortunately, none of the key provisions of the Act have been implemented to date. There has not been even a slight effort to give an indication that changes are eminent in the scrap metal sector. For Example:
(a) The Scrap Metal Council, an Agency that would manage and regulate the Scrap Metal industry as per the act was to be created by the Minister in charge of industrialization and Enterprise. It is yet to be set up. Therefore the administration of the Scrap Metal Industry – licensing, restrictions, record-keeping, is yet to be put in place. The appropriate measures and mechanisms for regulating the scrap metal industry to ensure long term economic growth, while protecting public health and high levels of environmental stewardship in scrap metal recycling industry is still far from being achieved.
(b) Exports of Scrap Metal, despite the government’s stated objective of creating jobs and expanding the manufacturing industry, we continue to export our jobs to Asian countries by continuing our non-restrictive practices of shipping out much needed raw material by our industries. We have continued to expose our industries vulnerability to international metal markets. Kenya must take bold and strategic decisions to protect its raw materials from the insatiable export market in Asia. Kenya has the capacity and the industrial base to utilize all the scrap metal within the country. It makes sense for this country to stand firm in support of its own stated plan for industrialization by 2030.
(c) Absence of Source Register by Registered Dealers, the Act provided for a system of disclosure of the source of all scrap material in the possession of any scrap dealer. This was to stem the tide against vandalism and theft of public infrastructural installation and other public assets. The industry has recently, over the last ten to fifteen years, been buffeted with problems of criminal elements using the scrap metal industry as an avenue to get rich quick. Theft of machinery, motor vehicles, public utility communication and power cables, manhole covers, steel signage structures, power transformers etc have been associated with unscrupulous scrap metal dealers.
We now write to you sir, and to the Committee on Implementation and even the Committee on Trade & Investment to revisit this matter and found out what could have gone wrong. Perhaps Parliament can appeal to the Ministry of Industrialization to implement the provisions of this legislation as required by law as a matter of urgency. Our many efforts seeking the implementation have landed on deaf years. Why would Parliament work so hard to enact laws that are not implemented?
We hope that the two committees can do something to assist struggling industries who now face closure due to the siphoning of raw materials. We are made to understand that Scrap batteries are now being “exported” to Uganda where the lead is smelted and then “re-exported” again out of Uganda as elevator counterweights to Asian countries. This is done in a region where Kenya has a capacity to produce 100,000 batteries from investments made when the Scrap Metal Act was enacted in 2015. Today 60% of that capacity is idle due to shortages of raw material. It is time we walked the talk.
Prof Karanja Njoroge
Chair, (Scrap Metal Industry) Public Interest Stakeholder Group
Hon. Moitalel Ole Kenta
Committee on Implementation
Hon. Kanini Kega
Committee on Trade and Investment