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Nyeri — Three months after the government imposed a nationwide ban on sale of scrap metal, traders in Nyeri county are complaining of tough economic times owing to the moratorium.
They also claimed that the government has been dragging its feet in lifting the ban, despite the fact that majority of them have paid the requisite new registration fee of Sh250,000 as ordered by the Scrap Metal Council.
“We are still where we all began with nothing positive to talk about. We have been in this cold for 90 days now and our situation is pathetic. We are therefore imploring President Uhuru Kenyatta to come out and unlock this stalemate,” said Joseph Njuguna who runs a scrap yard near the Majengo slums in Nyeri town.
Another trader, Jane wa Ndari said he was optimistic that the ongoing talks between the government and the concerned traders will finally bear fruits and lead to the eventual lifting of the ban.
He said since paying the Sh250,000 fee, the traders are still holding onto their old stock, since they cannot transport their cargo without first receiving a nod from relevant authorities.
“We are still in a stalemate one week after meeting Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development CS Betty Maina in a bid to unlock this stalemate. We have already paid the required amount of money but we are still unsure when we shall go back to business. We want clarification on what is happening and what needs to be done,” he explained.
On April 12, the Kenya Iron and Scrap Metal Association (KIMSA) held day-long demonstrations in Nairobi to protest the ban saying it was hurting their source of livelihoods.
Led by the association’s Secretary-General Irshadali Sumra, the dealers later delivered a petition to the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of national government demanding that the ban imposed on the industry be lifted.
They also held a meeting with CS Maina who promised to forward their grievances to the Head of State before she could give the way forward.
President Kenyatta ordered a ban on the scrap metal business on January 20 this year until proper guidelines to govern the sector are put in place.
The head of state who was speaking at the National Police College in Kiganjo during a pass out parade for police recruits similarly directed that no one would be allowed to engage in the business until proper mechanisms are put in place to regulate the sector.
Among reasons he attributed to the ban include the widespread vandalism of government key installations such as power lines and rail lines, leading to disruption of vital services such as power supply and transport.
Earlier on, a breakdown at Kenya Power’s transmission line had caused a major blackout that affected customers across major cities in the country including Nairobi.
But KISMA has disassociated its members from such incidents insisting that those carrying out such activities are nonmembers operating outside the guidelines of the association.
“The association has laid down ground rules that are strictly followed. Our members are discouraged from dealing in scrap metal vandalized from roads and railway lines,” said Sumra immediately after the announcement of the ban.
The multi-million sector is estimated to support 1.2 million people with about 200 registered dealers.