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Kenya offers cash incentive to tackle scrap crime syndicates

Crane grabber loading metal rusty scrap in the dock

The Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) is waving a ‘red flag’ following a spree of metal theft. The agency says stolen cables, street lights, guard rails and road signs are seriously hurting the country’s infrastructure with the total damage each year ‘in the millions’.

Recently, more than 30 street poles worth KES 5 million (almost EUR 45 000) were cut down by a Nairobi-based organised crime syndicate that then offered the metal to scrapyards.

‘We wish to condemn this unscrupulous and barbaric behaviour which not only endangers the lives of road users but also renders the maintenance of roads expensive,’ says John Cheboi, KURA’s communications director.

He recently announced a reward of KES 100 000 to anybody with information that would help catch scrap bandits. Concerned citizens can call a confidential hotline (+254 (0)20 272 2222) or email the authorities on info@kura.go.ke.

Recycling stakeholders complain that, even though Kenya officially enacted a Scrap Metal Act in 2015, key provisions of the legislation have not yet been implemented. For example, the licensing of all scrap metal dealers has not been completed. A proposed anti-theft Scrap Metal Council has been founded in name only and is not yet active. A chair was appointed mid 2017 but other members have yet to be nominated.

What has been agreed is that the penalty for metal dealers found in possession of stolen scrap can be a fine of KES 20 million and plus a prison sentence of one year. The thieves themselves face the same financial penalty, plus seven years in prison.

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