The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has been put on the spotlight after more than 23 tonnes of ginger oil imported from Vietnam was released despite a warning from the Port Health services questioning its safety.
In documents seen by Nation, the Government Chemist through a report released last week indicated that the ginger was dirty, moist, mouldy and rotting.
It further revealed that the ginger had an objectionable smell and appearance with a moisture content of 14 percent instead of the maximum limit of 12 percent, hence not complying with the standards.
The ginger, which was imported into the country by Fairoils EPZ Limited in Nairobi through container number EGSU50117342, was meant for extraction of oil, with sources now indicating that it has been released to its owners.
The consignment arrived at the Mombasa port and was checked by the health officials on August 8. The next day, samples were extracted and taken for testing at the Government Chemist, whose results were received on August 14.
The Port Health officials ordered the seizure the cargo in a letter to the Container Freight Station (CFS) on August 15.
Documents show that the Port Health officials asked the Mombasa Island Cargo Terminal (MIST) managers to hold onto the consignment as its content had been condemned and recommended for destruction.
The letter was copied to the Kilindini Port Police, the Kebs operations manager and the regional Port Public Health Officer.
“The said ginger had failed to comply with the standards and thereby condemned and recommended the same for destruction,” J. Kombo, the Public Health Officer at the Kilindini port wrote in a letter.
Nation understands that Kebs may have ignored the Port Health warning and issued a certificate of conformity, which allowed the importer to move the consignment from the CFS facility.
Kebs Corporate Communications Manager, Ms Phoebe Gituku told the Nation that the ginger had a certificate of conformity from the country of origin that showed it was fit for use.
Kenya Revenue Authority Coast Regional Commissioner Nicholas Kinoti also confirmed to the Nation that the consignment was okayed for released by both Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) and Kebs on August 8, but refused to divulge further details over the matter.
During the Madaraka Day celebrations, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that only three cargo interveners — the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), and Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) — would be allowed to operate at the port.
The President further directed that to enhance fast clearance of goods, imports with a certificate of conformity (CoC) should not be subjected to another verification unless there is evidence of non-compliance.