A Kenya Ports Authority employee has revealed that a container loaded with 638 pieces of ivory worth Sh382.7 million was not scanned before it was cleared for export.
Mr Benjamin Mwandawiro on Thursday told a Mombasa court that available records indicate that the mandatory procedure for container scanning at the port was not adhered to by the respective forwarder.
“The standard procedures as required by Kenya Revenue Authority for clearing goods for is that export containers must be scanned once they have entered the port and prior to issuance of final release for shipment,” he told Chief Magistrate Evans Makori.
He was testifying in a case in which Mr Fredrick Sababu and Mr James Ngala are charged with conspiracy to bring into a custom area prohibited goods, namely elephant tusks weighing 3827.5 kilograms that were stuffed in a 20-ft container for exportation to Thailand.
The duo have denied committing the offence at the Mombasa port in Changamwe on January 13, 2013.
The witness said the scanning process is normally done by a mobile scanner and that no container should be cleared for export before the process is followed.
“In this particular case, neither the container has a final release for shipment issued nor does it have an endorsed position slip. Based on these facts, it is strongly believed that immediately after the container entry, the truck proceeded straight to the yard where the container was unprocedurally offloaded,” he said in a report he produced in court.
Mr Mwandawiro, an export documentation officer, said after the final release for shipment has been issued by KRA, the forwarder proceeds to the documentation office and presents the position slip where final release for shipment is confirmed.
The court heard that the suspects made a shipping application through email, where they stated that the consignment was for decoration stones weighing 15 tonnes destined for Thailand.
Mr Mwandawiro said further investigations revealed that the documents used to clear the container were fake.
“In this particular case, the shipping order for the container is not seen on the respective dispatch book hence it was neither properly handed over at the gate nor was it received under dispatch,” Mr Mwandawiro’s report said.
He further stated that “on the basis of this, it is therefore strongly believed that shipping order for the container was sneaked in and placed in a batch of documents that had already been correctly handed over.
Kenya Wildlife Service principal investigating officer Joseph Sarara said documents used to clear the container had similar description to another container that had been intercepted in Hong Kong.
“The shipping order for this container had similar details as the container which had earlier been seized in Hong Kong with elephant tusks on January 1, 2013,” said Mr Sarara.
He said the entry number, shipping agent, forwarder and the description of the contents in the two containers were found to be the same.