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Scrap metal dealers descend on demolished city estate

Sunday July 21 2013

PHOTO | DENISH OCHIENG Administration police officers at the demolition site in Lang'ata on July 21, 2013.

PHOTO | DENISH OCHIENG Administration police officers at the demolition site in Lang'ata on July 21, 2013. NATION MEDIA GROUP

By NATION CORRESPONDENTS

Scrap metal dealers’ on Sunday descended on demolished houses in Lang’ata and carted away most of the steel.

Police and security guards overseeing the demolition sold off the scrap metal to dealers who trooped to the site as the victims counted their losses.

The scrap metal was being sold for Sh20 per kilogramme.

However, one had to pay the supervising officer Sh3,000 to “book” a slab which they would demolish to extract the metals.

Hundreds of dealers camped at various sites in what appeared to be a booming business that lasted for hours.

“If you pay Sh3,000 you are allocated a slab. But you have prepare scrap metals weighing 20 kilogrammes for the officers before you work on yours,” said Mr John Otieno, one of the dealers.

Several houses were demolished in Lang’ata on Saturday opposite the National Housing Corporation estate to create space for the construction of the Sh17.1 billion Southern by-pass.

Trade condemned

Meanwhile, steel mills workers have condemned the continued trade in scrap metal saying it encouraged vandalism of road signs and other public facilities.

In a press statement on Sunday, the Amalgamated Union of Kenya secretary-general Justus Maina said the continued trade in scrap metal sourced illegally partly led to the increase in road accidents.

Many drivers were unaware of hazards due to the absence of road signs, which were stolen by vandals, he said.

Mr Maina said local manufacturers like the Associated Battery Manufacturers (ABM) in Athi River, which relied on old vehicle batteries to obtain raw materials for new ones, were almost closing down due to the scrap metal dealers. The dealers export the old batteries to China.

“The manufacture of simple things like motor vehicle batteries in China will ultimately kill local industries leading to the loss of jobs,” he said.

Private property such as gates, barricades and body parts of motor vehicles from garages are not spared by the vandals, said the union.