Ugandan authorities have intercepted two trucks containing illicit Lead scrap destined for neighbouring Kenya barely two months after the state emphasized a ban on exporting the lead scrap.
Lida Company allegedly forged documents of aluminum for customs yet it was actually Lead scrap. The truck drivers also confirmed in their statement that the material loaded was from Lida Company.
The two trucks, registration numbers; KCL 555p and KCB 923X containing illicit lead scrap reportedly belonging to a Chinese company Lida located in Mbalala -Mukono, were intercepted at around 6pm on Tuesday and are being parked at Malaba Weigh Bridge.
Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, the Deputy Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Tororo, Albert Amula confirmed that the trucks were impounded following a directive from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC) to implement the ban on exporting lead scrap.
‘’As you are aware the government put in place a ban on exporting lead scrap. Earlier in a few days our security team working with Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) impounded trucks that were destined for Kenya containing the battery scrap. They are parked at the weigh bridge and in a few days the suspects will be taken to court’’, said Amula.
Amula warned that those violating the directive will be thoroughly investigated and arrested including the truck owners dealers, adding that exporting lead scarp creates a scarcity of raw materials for the local manufacturers which lead to closure of businesses in Uganda and decline in revenues.
He added that a multi-agency team is currently handling the interception of the truck ferrying the scrap batteries to neighbouring countries.
URA, in partnership with other relevant government agencies, had adopted an intelligence-based enforcement approach, where they gather intelligence before striking.
In 2021, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives banned exportation of raw materials starting in the 2021 financial year to encourage adding of value on all raw materials before exporting them.
Minister for Trade, Harriet Ntabazi, said 69% of raw materials in the country are exported hence causing revenue loss, adding that the move will improve the manufacturing sector.
The scrap allegedly was transported from Lida Factory in Mbalala Mukono to prior to the interception at Malaba. The occupants of the trucks will be taken to Kampala.
Currently, local battery manufacturing industries face a scarcity of raw materials to support their production processes. The scarcity is linked to among others the rampant smuggling of battery scrap into Kenya and Rwanda and other countries.
Despite the ban, dealers have continued to engage in the smuggling of the treasured raw material needed for local manufacturers.
This is not the first time trucks smuggling battery scrap from Uganda are being impounded. Last year, trucks were stopped at Kabale heading to Rwanda, Mirama Hills among other borders.
In East Africa, neighbouring Kenya also suspended the export, buying or selling of any battery scrap material until proper guidelines are put in place to regulate and protect Kenyan battery manufacturers. Battery and glass are two of the few materials that can be recycled and as a result the greater majority of automotive batteries manufactured around the world are made using recycled lead.
The East African Community set a maximum penalty of $10,000 among those involved in smuggling. Under the East African Community Customs Management Act 2004, smuggling attracts deterrent penalties, namely a five-year jail term or a fine equal to 50 per cent of the dutiable value of the goods or both and forfeiture of the goods involved.