A lobby group has vowed to fight attempts to amend a controversial Bill that seeks to ban the export of scrap metal.
The chairman of Public Interest Stakeholders in Scrap Metal Industry, Karanja Njoroge, has criticised the move to amend the Scrap Metal Bill 2013.
The Kenya Iron and Scrap Metals Association had urged the parliamentary committee on Budget to reduce the licensing fee and relax penalties proposed in the Bill.
Prof Njoroge said the Bill represented the interest of the country in promoting ethical business practices. “The Bill seeks to stop trade of metals obtained through vandalism,” he said.
The Bill is expected to be tabled before Parliament by the Cabinet Secretary of Industrialisation and Enterprise, Adan Mohamed.
A key feature of the proposed law is fast-tracking implementation of checks and balances to ensure only trade of legal scrap metal is allowed in the country.
The document proposes a 14-day delay before scrap metal is smelted to allow the government inspector to verify the source of the merchandise. A trader found with illegal scrap metal faces a Sh20 million fine or seven-year jail term.
Prof Njoroge said Kenya is losing Sh16 billion every year to vandals who target public utilities such as guard rails and road signs on even sections of the newly constructed Thika superhighway and Mombasa Road.
The vandals have also targeted telecommunications copper wire cables and other equipment, bridges, manhole covers, water pipes and power transformers.
Kenya Power is bearing the brunt of rising metals theft and has been incurring a cost of Sh3 billion every year replacing vandalised transformers and cables.
In 2009, then Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta (now President) banned the export of scrap aluminium, steel, copper wires and cables following a petition by Kenya Power and Telkom Kenya.
This was later followed by a ban by East African Community states on exporting scrap metals in the region.
But as export data shows, the move did not stop the exports. Available data shows that scrap metal exports fetched Sh2.8 billion last year, nearly tripling the Sh1 billion of 2011.
The amount of scrap metal exported was also more than double at 517,068 tonnes in 2012, showing that prices rose last year compared to the previous year.