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Ban on scrap metal business reduces vandalism in Malindi

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ban on scrap metal business in the country has helped reduce vandalism of critical infrastructure in Malindi town and its environment, a survey has revealed.

The survey revealed that major scrap metal yards in the town had been shut down in compliance with the ban and following an intensive crackdown by the Sub-county Security and Intelligence Committee.

Leaders and residents interviewed said the ban had come as a big relief as it could end the vandalism of critical infrastructure such as the Malindi Jetty, which is on the verge of collapse due to theft of metallic bars.

Others said the ban could also help reduce the theft of water meters and brass taps that has been rampant in the tourist resort town in recent years.

Boat owners and fishermen at the Shella Beach said the ban would lead to a reduction of theft of anchors and other fishing gear, which they said were being stolen by drug addicts for sale at the scrap metal yards, so they (addicts) could get money to buy hard drugs.

Malindi Deputy County Commissioner, Thuo wa Ngugi, told KNA in his office that security apparatus would remain vigilant to ensure that all dealers complied with the government directive and that those who do not comply would be arrested and prosecuted.

“This is a Presidential directive and all police commanders are under instructions to deal decisively with those who will disobey it,” Ngugi said.

He noted that the scrap metal business was responsible for the vandalism of critical infrastructure such as road signs by people who want to get quick cash.

He said that all scrap metal dealers were aware that the business had become illegal and urged them to look for alternative businesses.

“Those involved in this business are aware that it is now illegal and I ask them to look for alternative businesses because I already have their names and they will get arrested if they continue with the trade,” he added.

Yunus Aboud Sahe, the Chairman of the Shella Beach Management Unit, said the fisherfolk was happy with the ban as it would maintain security for boats and anchors as well as reduce vandalism on the jetty.

“Some drug dealers normally steal our anchors and break our boats, resulting in great losses, and the Presidential ban was long overdue,” Sahe said.

Shella Senior Assistant Chief, Nicodemus Mwayele Ndundi, said some vandals had gone as far as dismantling doors to steal locks and hinges as they were highly marketable at the scrap metal yards.

James Njihia, a Malindi resident urged his fellow residents to report to the authorities if they came across people doing scrap metal business.

President Kenyatta, while presiding over the passing out parade of police constables at the National Police College in Kiganjo, Nyeri, recently, banned exports and dealings in scrap metal, citing vandalism of critical infrastructure as the main reason.

The indefinite moratorium came at a time the country was witnessing increased vandalism of power lines and other infrastructure across the country.

The thieves have been targeting generators, water meters, signboards and metallic items at construction sites and abandoned buildings.

Several hotel and bar owners who closed down due to the Covid-19 pandemic complained of vandalized gates and grills by persons believed to be selling the stolen items to scrap metal dealers.

In 2020, two men were arrested for stealing a 225-kilovolt generator worth about Sh1 million at the Sindbad the Sailor hotel in Malindi town and selling it at a paltry Sh10, 000 to a scrap metal yard.

According to Malindi Water and Sewerage Company (Mawasco) Managing Director Gerald Mwambire, hundreds of water meters, generators and transformers belonging to the company and its customers have in the past been stolen and sold to scrap metal dealers in the town.

He says the company and its customers lose close to Sh10 million worth of water meters annually, with the vandals stealing an average of 20 water meters per week.

By Friday Amani and Emmanuel Masha 

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