By Patrick Jaramogi
There has been a ban on the export of scrap metal for the last five years, but reports of increased vandalism on utility properties continue to rise.
The Government slapped a ban on exportation of nonferrous scrap but utility providers, such as Umeme, National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) and Utl continue to cry foul.
Umeme and Utl say they lose between sh5b and sh3b respectively to vandalism every month and fingers are being pointed at scrap dealers.
But the people dealing in the scrap metal business continue to deny this accusation.
They ask that if there is a ban, why is vandalism on the rise?
James Kato, the chairperson Uganda Scrap Metal Dealers and Exporters Association, says it is the disgruntled workers of utility firms that vandalise properties and sell them as scrap.
“We have not been in business for over five years. So where are all the vandalised items being taken?” he asked at a stakeholders meeting held in Mengo Kisenyi.
Uganda banned cross-border trade on nonferrous materials in 2009.
The items included copper, brass and radiators. The ban, announced by then finance minister, Syda Bbumba followed complaints raised by utility providers.
The scrap dealers have been accused of raiding transformers, tombs, railway lines and NWSC water pipes and meters.
Addi Jawaconga, the Rift Valley Railways (RVR) security officer, said RVR has lost billions of shillings to vandals of the railway slippers and bolts.
“We have unearthered tonnes of stolen railway slippers from steel manufacturers in Namanve and Mukono,” he said.
He pointed out that the steel manufacturers are the leading culprits when it comes to missing slippers.
Bernard Mwesigwa, the general secretary Uganda Scrap Metal Dealers and Exporters Association, said they don’t condone vandalism. “Our position has been very clear and remains the same. Anybody got vandalising any utility product should be dealt with accordingly. We want strong laws in place to punish vandals,” he said.
He called for lifting of the ban, saying the Government was losing a lot of revenue that would be earned through export of the scrap.