NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 14 – The government will amend the law to empower the police to deal with illegal scrap metal dealers in the country.
During his budget presentation, Finance Minister Njeru Githae termed the dealers as economic criminals who should be behind bars.
“Scrap metal dealers who buy stolen and vandalized cables, wires, rail guards, signage and transformers, among others, are economic criminals who deserve to live in jails,” he said.
Githae said the amendment will empower the Internal Security Ministry to issue regulations that will compel the identification and traceability of all scrap metals handled by dealers.
He further announced tough measures that will see illegal dealers in scrap metals serve jails terms of three years or pay a fine of Sh1 million.
“With these measures in place, I wish, Mr Speaker, to put on notice these unscrupulous scrap metal dealers that their days are now numbered,” Githae warned.
Telephone operators and Kenya Power have previously announced that they were losing billions of shillings due to vandalism of their cables.
Currently, illegal sale of scrap metal is common which has increased room for vandalism in the country.
In August 2011, The Energy and Communications Law 2011 (Amendment) made changes on Section 2 of the Scrap Metal Act by re-introducing the licensing of dealers in the sector.
According to the provision, telecommunication and power cables’ vandalism were to attract a fine of Sh5 million or a jail term of 10 years and above.
The amendment was also seeking to alter sections of the Kenya Communications Act 1998, which made vandalism of electronic or power cables an economic crime that would see offenders pay up to Sh5 million in fines or serve five-year jail terms from the Sh100,000 or three years imprisonment set before.
Various companies have been concerned that vandalism has increased their costs of doing business due to disruption of services and also replacements of broken and stolen cables.
Once Githae’s proposals are adopted into law, probably illegal dealers will shy away from vandalism due to the stiff penalties.