Kenya has intercepted illicit scrap batteries destined for Tanzania barely two months after the State lifted a ban on dealings in scrap metal.
Authorities on Monday intercepted a truck along Mombasa Road ferrying scrap batteries to neighbouring Tanzania.
The truck, registration number KZF 212, was detained at around 10pm along the Nairobi-Mombasa Road at Mboo Inzau and detained at Mashuru Police Station.
The government in May issued strict regulations that require licensed scrap metal dealers to transport their cargo between the prescribed 6.30am and 6.30pm.
With the new regulations in place, the State lifted a January 20, 2022 ban that 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.
Charles Chepkonga, the Mashuru officer commanding police division (OCPD) said that a multi-agency team is currently handling the interception of the truck ferrying the scrap batteries to Tanzania.
“It is true we have the truck and the driver, the agencies concerned are following up the matter and we will be giving a detailed report later,” Mr Chepkonga said.
The multi-agency team comprises officers from the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and the Kenyan Revenue Authority among others.
Joseph Kopejo, the Nema director in charge of Kajiado, 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," Mamo said.
Last year, the 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 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 the 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 percent of the East African market requirement.