Scrap metal dealers push for interim regulations

Scrap metal dealers weighing iron sheets at Mukuru kwa Njenga slum, Nairobi. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Nakuru scrap metal dealers have appealed to the government to lift the ban on their business, noting the move had occasioned them unprecedented losses. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta indefinitely banned the scrap metal trade in the country on January 20 over what he termed as wanton destruction of public infrastructure while sourcing the materials. 

The ban came at the height of increased vandalism of road furniture and power transmission lines, whose materials were later traced to warehouses belonging to scrap metal dealers. 

Under Nakuru Scrap Metal Dealers Association, traders in the county led by their chair Joseph Wandaka are now seeking government audience to have the ban lifted under interim regulations. 

“The ban has hit investors and their employees hard. It came as a surprise. We are ready to comply with government directives to avert further losses in our businesses,” said Wandaka. 

President Uhuru said the ban on scrap metal trade will be maintained until a proper regulatory framework for the sector is established. 

Wandaka regretted that the indefinite moratorium, though issued in good faith, has spelt doom for those who have been depending on the sector for decades as a means of survival. 

“Our source of livelihood has been abruptly ended. It is unfortunate that a few rogue individuals have pushed even the genuine dealers to the edge. Many may never recover,” he said. 

He called on the government to move with speed to put in place measures to curb illegal dealings in the sector, noting that those who precipitated the ban are not stakeholders in the trade. 

“Vandalism of electricity power installations has been linked to rogue government officers in the energy sector. None of us was indicted in the vice but we are the ones in pain now,” he said. 

Wandaka said that they were open to engagement with government agencies on scrap metal trade operations, adding that they have already developed internal regulatory mechanisms. 

“As an association, we have formed a committee that will play the role of monitoring the value chain in scrap metal dealership. The committee is ready to work with government officers to smoke out vandals and those involved in shady deals,” he said. 

Jane Waithera, a supplier, said they are not vandals insisting that those destroying government projects have the expertise of how it is installed. 

According to Waithera, scrap metal dealers are not engaging in illicit business, noting that power installations are dangerous and only a network of insiders can be able to dismantle them. 

"We are paying yards and landlords don't understand we are not in business. We have children's fees, rent and many other bills to settle. Mr President just hear our cry," said Waithera. 

Her sentiments were echoed by Justus Mutinda, a transporter, who said the goods are wasting in trucks and yards after the abrupt ban, noting they should be allowed to sell the stock. 

"We had already received the stocks from suppliers and we were to take some of them to Nairobi. Now we have been left confused on what to do," said Mutinda.