Inside Politics

KRA wants enhanced penalties for illegal scrap metal exporters

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021 07:27 |
KRA Commissioner General Githii Mburu.

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) wants more stringent penalties levied on scrap metal dealers illegally exporting the product to neighbouring countries.

It says despite the business being outlawed, some traders were still exporting mainly scrap automotive batteries using “Panya routes”.

Deputy Commissioner in charge of the western region, Pamela Ahago, while confirming the arrest of a driver transporting scrap batteries to Tanzania at Isebania in Migori County, said KRA is committed to eradicating the vice but called for more efforts by the industry players.

The arrest of the driver and the impounding of the truck come two weeks after two other drivers were arrested at Oloitoktok in Kajiado County transporting scrap batteries to Tanzania.

The two drivers were later convicted and fined Sh300,000 and their trucks forfeited to the state.

According to Ahago, the driver arrested in Isebania was trying to escape the customs officials before his truck, registration number, KBQ 492 H, experienced mechanical problems.

“The driver did not have the requisite documentation like the Export permit from KRA and a licence from National Environment Management Authority (Nema),” she said, adding that the driver will be charged with the offence tomorrow.

Mamo Mamo, Nema director-general said that the authority, in partnership with other relevant government agencies, had adopted an intelligence-based enforcement approach, where they gather intelligence before striking.

“This approach has really worked and has truly borne fruit, with arrests of the offenders dealing with hazardous waste along our porous borders,” he said.

Porous borders

Scrap metal dealers have opted to use unmanned porous borders to transport the items after the police and KRA tightened inspection at the border points.

Unscrupulous traders are using unmanned points in Busia, Namanga, Taveta, and Lungalunga as the main routes to drive the illegal scrap metal trade.

Offenders are liable to a jail term of up to 20 years or a fine of Sh20 million or both. The owners of the two trucks transporting the scrap batteries also forfeit the vehicles to the State, according to the Scrap Metals Act.

Kenya banned the export of scrap metals, which includes spent-lead-acid–batteries (SLABs), through the law enacted in 2015.

The legislation is meant to support retention of raw material for value addition and provides stringent conditions under which exports of lead would be permitted.

Automotive battery manufacturers have over the past few years been pushing for full implementation of the law that is critical to safeguarding jobs.

Automotive battery manufacturers rely on lead extracted and recycled to make the batteries, referred to as recycling SLABs.

The East African region has two lead-acid battery manufacturers, namely Associated Battery Manufacturers and Uganda Batteries Ltd.

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