Residents of Yatta, Machakos County on Thursday held demonstrations and blocked the Kitui-Machakos Highway protesting a court’s decision to release a scrap metal dealer.
The angry residents lit fires on the major highway, laying stones and tyres across the road and eventually blocking incoming vehicles from accessing the stretch.
What enraged the residents the most was the fact that its they who rounded him up and took him to the police station where he was locked up. The locals accused the dealer of being a thorn in their flesh after stealing from them consistently over the years.
A screengrab of protestors blocking a section of Mombasa Road on May 16, 2023.
Motorists using the road were forced to request relevant authorities to deploy officers to the area to contain the situation.
Suspected metal dealers have in the past been arrested intending to sell the materials to secondary dealers in and outside the country.
The scrap metal business in Kenya is governed by the Scrap Metal Act of 2014, which describes the product as any disregarded wasted alloy or metal.
According to the Act, anybody intending to venture into the business or already dealing in the trade to obtain a license from their county government.
The Act further requires dealers to register their businesses with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).
To further ensure accountability and transparency in the scrap business, NEMA has in the past launched more regulations.
As part of the requirements, dealers are also expected to maintain records for all purchase and sales transactions.
The government decided to license the business, after illegal dealers were in 2022 arrested smuggling the materials across the Malaba and Namanga borders.
People found operating scrap metal businesses without a license are liable to pay a fine of up to KSh10 million or 10 years in prison.
Police in action at Maringo area in South B following fiery demonstrations, May 14, 2020.