The ban on scrap metal was imposed in January 2022 following an increase in the frequency of vandalism of critical road and rail infrastructure and transmission lines.
The move, it was believed, would guarantee the preservation of critical public infrastructure, particularly road signs and guard rails.
However, scrap metal dealers claimed to have been immensely affected by the ban, arguing that it was abrupt and hardly considered public participation.
In an attempt to address the issue, it was considered compulsory for scrap dealers to obtain licences prior to proceeding with business operations.
The Roads Act 2007 incorporates several components pertaining to vandalism of road furniture. Indeed, Part II, Section 4.2(b) holds that all road authorities have been accorded the right of controlling road reserves and access to road side developments.
Vandalism of road furniture has detrimental effects to the mwananchi. Take, for instance, the safety standpoint: vandalised road signs and traffic lights translates into confusion as a result of possible misinterpretation of signs and the limited protection to road users.
This endangers lives besides imposing a significant burden on emergency services and healthcare systems. In one of the latest incidents, a vandal was arrested on Wiyumiririe–Nyahuru Road on September 7, 2023.
The vandal was allegedly stealing a metal culvert, having already secured about a complete ring. The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) has had to replace the same even as the case goes on.
The other incident is the political protests in Nairobi in July this year which led to the vandalism of the Nairobi Expressway.
The most affected areas included Mlolongo, the SGR and Syokimau toll stations. The protests across the country were generally characterised by illegal barricading along the highways thus compelling the halting of services.
The damaged guardrails, for example, increase the overall likelihood of accidents on the roads. Notably, vandalism of road furniture causes delays due to traffic congestion.
In turn, traffic congestion occasions time wastage increases fuel consumption, delays in the delivery of goods and services, and ultimately has economic ramifications.
The crusade against vandalism, therefore, is not just a fight by the government institutions affected but ought to be a fight by citizens for their own safety and that of their families. Let us all preserve life.
The writer is the assistant corporate communication officer at KeNHA.