Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) has said that any metal scraps (metal waste) entering the Rwandan market without passing through legal procedures will be returned to the country of origin. The warning follows the discovery of 12 trucks of scrap metals that entered the country without permit and were denied to offload the waste. Metal scraps are a combination of waste metal, metallic material and any product that contains metal that is capable of being recycled from previous consumption or product manufacturing. The scraps are supplied to local companies that produce metal products which also recycle the scraps into metal products. Patrick Muhoza in charge of international obligations at REMA said the trans-boundary movement of hazardous waste such as metal scraps is regulated by Basel Convention. Basel Convention is an international treaty that was designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries (LDCs). The convention was opened for signature in 1989, and entered into force in 1992. Rwanda ratified the convention in 2004. It is aimed to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes. “According to the convention and our environmental law, there should be communication between the countries (country of export and country of import) before the waste crosses the borders,” he said. As REMA we have to get notification from such countries and provide permits to the importers but we didn’t get any. Otherwise if they enter the local market without following procedures, they are returned to where they are coming from, he explained to The New Times. He said that before trans-boundary movement of the waste there must be assessment if the country to receive the waste has capacity to manage them. Knowing the waste status, he said, it is because the waste might be hazardous posing a threat to the environment and human health. “Some might have packaged poisonous chemicals that can burn and cause accidents any time if not properly handled. The country that receives such waste must have capacity to manage them through safe disposal, recycling among others. After assessing and approving this by competent authorities in both countries, then the waste can be allowed to enter our market with notification from the country of import,” he said. He said that REMA suspects metal scraps recently impounded might have been illegally entering the Rwandan market. However, he said, there are some who import the scraps legally. “Those whom we found recently said they were not aware of the procedures yet they have been operating for years which means they didn’t care about passing through recommended ways,” he said. He added that following training to people in logistics and customs, the cases are being discovered. He said those impounded have been requested to start legal procedures before off-loading the waste. “The agents from those countries or customs on the two countries’ border can come and help in the assessment of the waste so that we get the way forward for legal procedures before offloading the waste,” he said. Pacifique Nzabonimana, one of the truck drivers, admitted that they have been doing such business for five years but argued that they were not aware of the legal procedures recommended by REMA. Jean Pierre Hitimana, a business person in metal scraps said they used to declare the cargoes through Rwanda-DRC border but argued that he had no knowledge about any other procedure “I have no knowledge about the procedures that REMA is talking about. We wish that REMA allows off-loading and selling the scraps. We have requested REMA to facilitate us,” he said.