Dealing in scrap metal is now illegal in Nairobi after the city’s Governor Evans Kidero put a ban on the trade and ordered the County licensing department to revoke monthly trade licenses issued to scrap metal businesses.
“No more trade licenses will be issued henceforth,” said Kidero, further instructing a thorough audit of all the firms and individuals trading in scrap metal businesses in order to avert the massive vandalism within the city.
STEALING THE STEEL
The stealing of road signs, lamp posts and guard rails along road as been cited as a key cause of the high number of accidents witnessed on Kenyans roads.
Although local trading in scrap metal has not been illegal, a ban on the export of scrap metals was inducted by The Ministry of Trade in June 2010.
The destruction of Kenya’s capital city’s infrastructure, energy and telecommunication sectors as a result of vandalism and the export of scrap metal, has resulted in huge loss of financial resources and lives. The East Africa Community (EAC) Council of Ministers Legal Notice of 29th June 2010 restricted the export of scrap metal outside the East African Community Partner States.
VIOLENCE AND URBAN SAFETY
According to Dr Kidero, who was speaking during the opening of a multi-stakeholders workshop on ‘Violence And Urban Safety’ organized jointly by his office and the World Bank, improving security is key to a better quality of urban life where vandalism of lamp posts and a resultant lack of street lighting has fuelled crimes, so the ban on scrap metal trade is a step in this direction.
“One of the things that need to be done to ensure we have a safe city is to ensure that our streets are lit and of late we have been suffering from dark streets because of vandalism and we cannot allow this to continue because this happens due to illegal trade by people who are vandalizing our electric wires and metal protectors of our roads,” Kidero stated.
BAN ON EXPORT OF SCRAP METAL
In a report in The Star on Wednesday, June 12, 2013, the Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau is reported to have issued a directive to ban scrap metal export from Kenya, since the current ban issued by the Ministry of Trade in 2010 only applies to export of scrap metals outside EAC partner states.
Mr Kamau reportedly issued the directive at the Mombasa Port where three containers holding scrap metals were being held for scrutiny by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
HAS KIDERO GOT IT RIGHT?
Is Evans Kidero’s move against scrap metal dealers a good idea, asks the Kenya Forum? The answer is a difficult one.
The damage to Nairobi’s infrastructure caused by illegal scrap metal dealing is undeniable, not least because some of the ‘scrap’ metal isn’t scrap at all but rather stolen road signs, barriers and the like. On the other hand, the legitimate trade in scrap metal helps turn waste product into income and jobs whilst also clearing up the city’s environment. Surely the better answer would have been to properly regulate the trade through licensed dealers.