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Metal scavengers, a walking nightmare

By | Dec 16th 2010 | 2 min read
By | December 16th 2010

By Patrick Beja

The mad rush for scrap metal in Mombasa has reached its peak with undesirable consequences. There is a mad rush for metals in residential areas, the Central Business District (CBD) and even bushes at the County as the price of the commodity are reportedly attractive.

And in its wake, the metal search has left individuals and corporate entities counting their losses. For instance, metal dealers have raided homes and collected even utensils and metal bars holding cloth lines in place in compounds. The metal vandals are also known to target thin metal bars on plot beacons, forcing some residents to replace them with wooden planks. These ‘scavengers’ simply go for anything metal.

Hazardous manholes

Mombasa Municipal Council is among corporate bodies and individuals bearing the brunt. Most of the council metal manhole covers dotting the town centre have been stolen and the huge holes for the town sewerage and drainage system left open dangerously waiting to swallow unsuspecting pedestrians.

It is now a common feature to stumble on the uncovered manholes right within the CBD, causing worries to residents and town managers. Worse, most of the holes are located on the pedestrian walkways in town and residents have had to learn how to navigate their way to safety and avoid such risky spots at night.

The council tried to replace the steel covers with metal grills in some locations, but the vandals made away with the materials. Now, following a public outcry, the local authority has embarked on covering the gapping holes with non-metal material known as ‘polyne’ in a bid to beat the menacing vandals at their own game. The technology from China is being piloted in town.

Mayor Ahmed Mohdhar and Town Clerk Tubmun Otieno are leading the new drive to restore more than 10,000 covers in the CBD and adjacent areas served by drainage system. The town fathers kicked off the project at Mwembe Tayari this month where 158 covers where restored.

But even as the council tries to overcome the problem, the question is who will satisfy this demand for scrap metal?


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