House approves tough measures to regulate scrap metal trade

Parliament has approved a Motion seeking to introduce controls in the scrap metal trade, which is largely to blame for vandalism of communication and energy equipment.

The Energy Committee wants 14 regulatory provisions returned to the Scrap Metals Act 2007 and the police empowered to license scrap metal dealers.
Committee chairman Engineer James Rege said those found tampering with communication equipment, including energy transformers, would be fined Sh5 million or jailed for ten years or both.

The enactment of the Bill would protect communication and energy apparatus from vandals.

The Bill reclassifies vandalism of communication and energy equipment as acts of economic sabotage and proposes the licensing of scrap metal dealers.

MPs decried the vandalism of fibre optic cables that has led to cutting off of local and international communication thus raising the cost of doing business.
“These vandals are cannibalising vehicles, road rail guards and sign posts, including those of school signs. I propose that the fines should be punitive,” said Lari MP David Njuguna.

Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo proposed an amendment to force Kenya Power to install transformers in secure places, among them people’s homesteads, schools, churches and police stations.

“Hardly a week passes after installation of electricity, than you find transformers have been vandalised,” said Emuhaya MP Wilbur Ottichillo.

Mr Ekwee Ethuro said the police service must be reformed to deal with crimes of economic nature.

Mr Ethuro said a panel of inspectors should deal with checks on scrap metal dealers to eliminate bribery.

“Penalties must be punitive to deter criminals. We must not spare any effort to nail economic saboteurs. They must be treated as economic criminals,” he said.

The MPs called for investment in infrastructure development in far flung areas such as the arid and semi arid areas, where there are no telecommunication services.

Complete ban

Last month, President Kibaki assented to the Laws of Kenya Miscellaneous Amendment Bill 2012 that among other things condemns vandals to a jail term of ten years, a fine of Sh5 million or both.

The Bill also allowed police to impound trucks ferrying scrap metal to ensure the origin of the materials could be authenticated.

Utility companies, however, want a complete ban on scrap metal trade to eliminate vandalism.

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