Be wary of fake scrap metal dealers – PASAK officials warn Kenyans
Pamoja Scrap Metal Association of Kenya (PASAK) has warned the public to be wary of unlicensed people camouflaging as legal scrap metal dealers.
The association officials decried that an upsurge of vandalism on both public and private infrastructure is being facilitated by illegal players in the scrap metal industry who are using fake licenses to hoodwink the public.
Addressing journalists at Maguguni village in Thika where theft of water pumps most of which are stripped of copper wire, tanks, gates, windows, and metallic farming tools has increased with locals blaming the crime on a booming illegal scrap metal business, the officials led by their secretary general James Muigai described it as illegal for anyone who is unlicensed to operate in the scrap metal industry.
Muigai revealed that the association had come up with strict guidelines including demand for a banner outside the businesses of all legal dealers detailing their particulars, and an up-to-date license from a recognized association all in a bid to weed out fake dealers who he said have been tarnishing the image of the industry.
Following increased vandalism of properties from various government agencies such as Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), Ketraco, KeNHA and Kenya Railways, Muigai noted that several associations have been formed to deal with the fake dealers.
He at the same time warned that scrap metal dealers engaging in illegal activities will have their licenses revoked and the individual dealers will carry their own burden as they are not licensed to undertake burglary.
“As PASAK, we are doing regular sensitization to the public against fake dealers. We want to comply with the law and the dictates of the government. Anyone arrested will carry their own cross and at no other time will the entire industry be crucified for the mistakes of an individual,” Muigai said.
His sentiments were echoed by Lydia Muthoni and James Mungai who urged the public to be on the lookout and call out all fake dealers who have been moving around the villages stealing from homes and institutions.
“We cannot allow fake dealers to destroy the whole industry. We are here to apologize to residents of Maguguni who have been terrorized by fake dealers and to sensitize them on what to look out for when engaging scrap metal players. This is a business like any other but it has been shrouded by fake operators who we cannot allow to continue operating,” Muthoni said.
The association officials spoke days after residents of Ngoliba Ward raised alarm over increased cases of vandalism of key private and public installations by rogue scrap metal dealers.
Irked by the increased burglary, the locals who have been having sleepless nights this week arrested three suspects found having invaded homes on a mission to steal metallic items for throw-away sales at a local shop.
Agitated, the irate residents further invaded the scrap metal shop at Maguguni shopping centre where they managed to recover their stolen home items which, once stolen, are destroyed by cutting them into pieces to conceal their identity.
The residents led by Beth Kamau whose Ksh70,000 water pump machine was stolen on Sunday before it was sold to the scrap metal dealers at throw-away prices told journalists that properties worth millions have so far been stolen and sold to unscrupulous scrap metal dealers who later market them elsewhere.
“My three-year-old water pump machine which I bought at Sh 70,000 was stolen and sold some hundreds, they also stole my gate which they sold at Sh 700. How are we going to survive in this state. Our main concern is actually not the thieves but the ready market at Ngoliba shopping centre. It is time that the government closes down these scrap metal shops, otherwise, we are ready to deal with them as residents,” Kamau lamented.
On her part, Margaret Njeri was shocked to find her sufurias stolen with food items by the daring criminals who invaded her home while she was asleep.
“They do not mind what they are stealing. They are now sneaking to our kitchens to steal everything and anything to make us suffer. We are perturbed that nothing much has been done to contain the thieves,” Njeri regretted.
To make the matter worse, the thieves are now said to have begun invading public infrastructure including a local bridge whose metallic items were destroyed, removed and sold to unknown people.
Brass valves, metal pipes and ladders are among other public properties stolen by thieves who in most cases execute the crimes at night.
Early last year, the government announced a moratorium on scrap metal trade in the country as part of government efforts to end the rising cases of vandalism of public installations.
The government cited increased vandalism of state infrastructure which was described as economic sabotage which falls under treasonable acts.
The suspension was to remain until the government put in place adequate measures to effectively police the sourcing, trade and export of scrap metal, warning that those found culpable for vandalism of state infrastructure will be dealt with firmly.