How The Ban on Scrap Metal Dealership Led To a Booming Underground Trade 

The illicit trade was no longer just confined to Kenya’s major cities of Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret and Kisumu; it mutated and morphed out to virtually all the neighboring countries where scrap metal barons from Kenya established new bases

By The Weekly Vision

When President Uhuru Kenyatta issued an Executive Order banning the buying and selling of scrap metals in the country, unscrupulous dealer’s simple changed tact to stay in business, they went underground while others relocated into neighbouring countries. 

The illicit trade was no longer just confined to Kenya’s major cities of Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret and Kisumu; it mutated and morphed out to virtually all the neighboring countries where scrap metal barons from Kenya established new bases. Kenya’s neighbors have not banned the business like it was in Kenya. The illicit trade has become an easy cash cow

for security officials in Kenya and elsewhere, their counterparts from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) collude in taking bribes to facilitate the easy flow of contraband scrap metal leaving Kenya for neighboring countries.

CS Fred Matiang’i

The Weekly Vision Investigative Team established that with the hundreds of billions of Kenya shillings at their disposal, it was easy and cheaper for the barons to migrate and establish trade in these countries. Scrap metal Dons from Kenya have since invaded Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.

President Kenyatta ordered the ban based on statistics and intelligence reports showing how the country was losing billions of shillings through vandalism of critical infrastructure of both private and public entities. The country’s highway network was the worst hit with crucial girders, road signs, and drainage systems among others being vandalized for scrap metal. The consequence was the near-collapse of expensive infrastructure that leads to road accidents and deaths.

Armed with hacksaws during the night, scrap metal dealers and their agents would raid crucial installations to steal and then sell off the metals. Interior CS Fred Matiangi said: “Our people are dying on our roads each day and night because of the deadly road accidents triggered by missing road signs and girders just because a few greedy people want to make money by vandalizing and selling scrap metals. They must know vandalism of public or private property is a criminal offence and those involved will not be spared,” he said.

One dealer told our reporter, “There is no money and we have to get money to survive, therefore we simply get the metals from wherever we can and know where to sell them through the back door day and night. When the buying centers are full, trucks come late at night to load and take them away to where they are needed and life goes on”. He went on: “I have been in this business for more than 30 years and there is no way the government is going to kill it with banning orders when we are hungry and the trade is free and open in the neighboring countries. All we have done is change base” he said. The State lifted the ban it imposed on export and dealings in scrap metal in April.

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