Government destroys 44 containers of sugar and rice

Saturday February 6 2016

A Kenya Revenue Authority boat escorts a barge carrying contraband goods that were later destroyed in Mombasa on February 5, 2016. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A Kenya Revenue Authority boat escorts a barge carrying contraband goods that were later destroyed in Mombasa on February 5, 2016. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By WACHIRA MWANGI
More by this Author

Forty-four containers of smuggled sugar and condemned rice were Friday destroyed in the Indian Ocean.

Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Ports Authority officials and security officers escorted a barge that was filled with sugar and rice from 44 containers and dumped into the ocean.

The 1,000 tonnes capacity China Road and Bridge Corporation-owned barge Si Hang Ni 25 was loaded with the rice and sugar on Wednesday. Friday it sailed into the ocean’s deep waters.

The vessel set off from the port of Mombasa at 8.30am and the goods were emptied out into the ocean at 10.20am, 15 kilometres away.

Goods in 45 other containers at the port will also be destroyed as the government sends a strong message to smugglers.

The consignment of illegally imported Brazilian sugar was declared as hardware material, lentils, photocopiers, office furniture, new shoes and dried grapes.

It was stored at the Autoport, Focus and MCT cargo freight stations in Mombasa and was intercepted mid-January by the revenue authority, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

The destruction comes barely a week after the taxman closed down two container freight stations in Mombasa amid claims of smuggling of multi-million--shilling goods.

Revenue authority Commissioner-General John Njiraini said he was determined to continue with the war on illicit trade.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Mr Njiraini said the rice consignment stored at Compact freight station was destined for Uganda but whose owners failed to claim it, was legally imported.

He said this explains why Compact Freight Station was not closed.

UNFIT FOR CONSUMPTION

The Kenya Bureau of Standards condemned the rice, saying it was unfit for human consumption. It too was destroyed Friday.

While presiding over the destruction of contraband goods worth Sh300 million at the Mwakirunge dumping site on January 21, President Uhuru Kenyatta said owners of illicit goods should be arrested.

He directed security agents to hasten the investigation of individuals behind the illegal imports that were destined for the local market.

However, the identities of those behind the illegal multi-million-shilling business have not yet been unmasked despite ongoing investigations.

The Kenya Revenue Authority is proceeding with plans to streamline the cargo importation process.

Revenue authority bosses  from the five East African Community countries met in Nairobi on Thursday and yesterday  to review progress on transit control.

They will also discuss the implementation of the regional cargo tracking platform expected to be in place by June 2016.