Customs at Busia Border Point have Impounded two Trucks Used in Illegal Battery Scrap Export Which Is ‘Killing Uganda Battery Sector’
Officials from Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), a government revenue collection agency have impounded 2 Kenyan registered trucks at Busia border for smuggling battery scrap from Uganda.
The trucks, which are currently being parked at One Stop Border Post at Busia (Kenya/Uganda) and reportedly pending transfer to Kampala, were intercepted separately while carrying Battery scrap smuggled from Uganda.
They are registered as; KBH 790Y/ZC 3629 and the other is KBQ413VZC2728 (Trailers).
It should be noted that the local battery manufacturing industry faces a looming collapse due to lack of raw materials as a result of smuggling of battery scrap into Kenya and Rwanda by reportedly a section of dealers.
This prompted the Ugandan government through the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives last year to ban exportation of battery raw materials starting this financial year, which started in July.
Despite the battery scrap export ban, dealers have seriously continued to engage in smuggling the raw material to the great lakes region from Uganda threatening the local manufacturers.
This was confirmed by Hon. Harriet Ntabazi, the State Minister for Trade, who noted that her team and other officials from the government were planning to go to Busia for inspection.
Ntabazi emphasized that the ban hasn’t been lifted on exporting battery scrap and she urged traders to desist from engaging in the Vice.
It should be remembered that last year the government banned exportation of battery scrap after it emerged that 69 per cent of battery raw materials in the country are illegally exported to neighboring countries hence causing revenue loss, and the move was aimed at protecting and improving the battery manufacturing sector locally .
The Ugandan Government Ban on exporting battery scrap was aimed at stopping revenue loss and improving the battery manufacturing sector in Uganda.
“Government has banned exports of unprocessed raw material starting this financial year to encourage adding of value on all raw materials before exporting them, so this money will help traders embrace value addition,” Minister Ntabazi said.
According to players in the battery manufacturing industry, the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Co-operatives and also Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) should act as the illegal smuggling of lead business is continuing to thrive across the Ugandan borders and may force closure of local producers.
“The collapse for the battery manufacturing sector in Uganda is looming but there is a chance of survival if the ministry in charge enforces the directive as soon as possible,” said one of the MPs who sits on the trade committee during an interview about the matter.
Another trader who preferred anonymity said the government should make an attempt to implement the ban which was made last year.
“Government should implement the banning export of battery scrap because the decision is critical to safeguard jobs for Ugandans and grow the manufacturing sector”, noted a trader.
Other officials from the government we spoke to asked the government to fix gaps in the Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) policy.
The BUBU policy is an initiative of the Ministry of Trade that seeks to protect and promote the capacity of local companies to compete.
Officials say the move to ban exportation of battery scrap material will ease the cost of doing business by local manufacturers.
He added that raw material exports are bought at a low price, but are three times the price when imported as a finished product.
Uganda has about 53 businesses which have batteries listed among their services.
This is not the first time trucks smuggling battery scrap from Uganda are being impounded, previously, other trucks were stopped at Kabale heading to Rwanda.
A source from URA said smuggling battery scrap has affected battery industry in Uganda because it creates scarcity of raw materials.
Our source confirmed by press time that the trucks remained parked in the parking yard at Busia one stop border post over the pending investigations, adding that perpetrators will be arrested and charged.
URA officials condemned the act and warned traders to desist from the illegal practices of smuggling in the area. The practice also contravenes with the East Africa community trade policy in the region.
It should be noted that it’s not only the Ugandan government which banned battery scrap export to protect her domestic manufactures, Kenya was the first to issue a directive on lead sell abroad.
Outgoing Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatt put a suspension on the export, the buying or selling of any battery scrap material until proper guidelines are put in place to regulate and protect Kenyan battery manufacturers.
Many players in Kenya celebrated saying the presidential directive banning the export of scrap was long overdue and it would save the sector.
Battery and glass are two of few materials that can be recycled indefinitely and as a result the greater majority of automotive batteries manufactured around the world are made using recycled lead.
The 2004 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% of the dutiable value of the goods or both and forfeiture of the goods involved.