KRA officials intensify surveillance along Kenya-Tanzania border

scrap metal

Battery manufacturers have expressed fears that they will soon run short of raw materials following increased exportation of scrap batteries to Tanzania.

Photo credit: File Nation Media Group

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officials have heightened surveillance along the Kenya-Tanzania border to arrest traders exporting scrap metal following reports that police have been colluding with the unscrupulous traders to operate.

The increased surveillance follows complaints from local scrap batteries dealers. They have accused some police officers of working with the smugglers to export the materials.

Taveta Border station manager, KRA, John Kiilu said his officers have seized a number of trucks along the Nairobi/ Mombasa Highway while transporting scrap batteries to Tanzania.

 “We have intercepted trucks with scrap batteries destined for Tanzania, we are interrogating the drivers to establish the origin and whether they have any documentation to carry out the business,” Mr Kiilu said.

The authority has in the last few weeks intercepted a number of trucks exporting scrap batteries to Tanzania where the material is in high demand.

On Saturday evening KRA officials intercepted a truck registration number KCV 519X exporting scrap batteries to Tanzania without a single document from the authorities.

The driver of the truck is likely to be charged with the offence on Monday according to Kiilu. The government in May this year issued strict regulations that require licensed scrap metal dealers to transport their cargo between the prescribed 6.30am and 6.30pm, but transporters have not heeded.

Exporting any form of scrap metal is illegal with severe penalties meted on the culprits, trucks and the materials confiscated by the state.

With the new regulations in place, the State lifted a January 20, 2022 ban that retired President Uhuru Kenyatta imposed on scrap metal business following a surge in vandalism of critical national assets including power transformers.

The new rules impose a Sh10 million fine or a three-year jail term to anyone found operating without a license.

Repeat offenders are liable to a fine not exceeding Sh20 million or imprisonment for not more than five years. Export of scrap metal under the new rules remains restricted.

The multi-agency team comprises officers from the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and the Kenyan Revenue Authority among others.

Nema director in charge of Kajiado Mr Joseph Kopejo said the authority is undertaking investigations to establish whether the transporter of the detained scrap batteries had the necessary licences issued by the authority.

“We have taken over the matter and we want to establish whether the transporter has a licence from us which is a requirement under the law,” Mr Kopejo said.

Nema Director-General Mamo last year 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," Mr Mamo said.

Last year, then KRA deputy commissioner in charge of the western region Pamela Ahago said despite the business being outlawed, some traders were still exporting scrap automotive batteries using the porous border points.

Two drivers were jailed last year for transporting scrap batteries to Tanzania and the trucks were confiscated by the State as the law stipulates.

The two drivers were convicted and fined Sh300, 000 and their trucks forfeited to the state in line with the provisions of the Scrap Metal Act.

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

The East African region has two lead-acid battery manufacturers, namely Associated Battery Manufacturers (ABM) and Uganda Batteries Limited (UBL) who produce about 30 per cent of the East African market requirement.