Associated Battery Manufacturers Managing Director Guy Jack has decried increased smuggling in the battery manufacturing sector, saying it will render over 2,000 jobless.
He urged the government to urgently address the situation that has placed the industry on the verge of collapsing.
“We are in a very precarious position, if not controlled we will have no option but to shut down, and as a result over 2,000 workers will be left jobless,” Jack said.
“We are also aware of cases of exports of lead ingots camouflaged as elevator counterweights. This is a case where we export our manufacturing jobs, which will result in the closure of battery manufacturing in East Africa,” he added.
He said that the country has potential in battery manufacturing but it is hampered by the irregular and illegal handling of recyclable lead, the most economical source of raw material for battery manufacturers across the world.
The industry heavily depends on scrap batteries for raw materials, so their unavailability will significantly impact manufacturers.
He urged the government to implement the Scrap Metal Law enacted in 2015, which was meant to keep the raw materials in the country.
“The legislation was meant to support the retention of the raw materials for value addition and provided stringent conditions under which exports of lead would be permitted. Lead smuggling is rampant in the border towns of Loitoktok, Taveta, Busia and Malaba,” Jack said.
He hailed the Kenya Revenue Authority for its officers’ role in containing the vice by intercepting trucks along the border points. Some drivers, he added, have also been arrested and charged in court, but the penalties meted out are too lenient to serve as a warning.
The country is currently facing a significant shortage of raw materials because scrap metal dealers are “exporting” used batteries to Uganda and Tanzania smelters, who, in turn, refined export lead to Asia.