MPs push for police to license scrap dealers
Posted Thursday, July 12 2012 at 19:55
A group of MPs is pushing for more changes in law to curb vandalism, just days after President Kibaki endorsed punitive rules introduced by the State Law Office to protect key assets from the vice.
The team, led by Energy Committee chairman James Rege, wants to return regulation of scrap metal industry to the police five years after Parliament stripped the force of the role.
In the Energy and Communications Law (Amendment) Bill, the MPs plan to have police register dealers and license their exports.
“These proposals, which intend to amend latest amendments, will make vandalism a very expensive undertaking in the country, and hopefully eliminate it,” Mr Rege, told the Business Daily.
Under the proposed changes, police officers in the rank of inspector and above assigned by the Inspector General of Police will perform the role.
The Bill proposes that the police will mount random inspections at the dealers’ premises.
While a section of the dealers sees the police involvement as “excessive regulation” that could breed corruption, industry lobby Kenya Iron and Scrap Metal Association has no objections.
“As an association, we have always pleaded with government to give police back its powers to license and distinguish our members from unscrupulous dealers,” association secretary- general Irshad Sumra said on Thursday.
The Bill the President signed into law on July 6, appears to have pulled the rug from under the MPs’ feet.
The amendments drafted by AG Githu Muigai incorporated part of Mr Rege’s proposed amendments to the Energy Act while leaving the Scrap Metal Act largely intact.
For the Energy Act, the new amendments spell out stiffer penalties of a minimum fine of Sh5 million or jail term of not less than 10 years for anyone convicted of vandalism.
The AG has also broadened definition of “act of vandalism” (from Rege’s Bill) to include willful, negligent, reckless or malicious act that damages vehicles, aircraft and vessels, pipeline, electrical plant and equipment.
Institutions like local authority, road boards and cable firms will specifically have to be more cautious in their work to avoid punitive sanctions.
Key utility firms have backed the amendments, saying it will deter theft and vandalism.
“The stiff law will save the power infrastructure from destruction, and enable the company to provide reliable and better quality power to customers,” Mr Joseph Njoroge Kenya Power’s managing director said in a press statement.
“About 40 per cent of power supply interruptions have been associated with theft of transformers and accessories,” said Mr Njoroge.