Govt seized contraband worth Sh7.5bn in two months

Tuesday July 24 2018

contraband sugar

Suspected contraband sugar in Nakuru. Police in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County, have impounded more than 120 bags of suspected contraband sugar believed to be from Uganda. PHOTO | AYUB MUIYURO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Substandard goods are still finding their way into the Kenyan market even as the government intensifies crackdown on counterfeits and contraband in the country. 

This was revealed on Monday by the multi-agency team formed in May and tasked with plugging seepage and sale of illicit goods in the country. 

The team conducted random tests on various consumer goods across the country, particularly sugar.  

Most of the goods that were seized during the exercise are cosmetics, alcoholic drinks, building and construction materials.

Others were household appliances, foodstuffs, motor vehicle spare parts, cooking gas, cigarettes and textiles.   

Most of these goods failed standards tests.


During the two-month exercise, a total of 1.3 million bags of sugar from various parts of the country were impounded and subjected to tests after suspicion that the sugar did not satisfy safety standards.

Of the 1.2 million bags of sugar so far tested by the standards agency, 837,244, representing 66 percent of the sample, failed the test.

Only 157,392 bags were found to be fit for human consumption.  

According to Trade and Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, the government seized sub-standard goods worth more than Sh7.5 billion between May and June.

Mr Munya said the tested sugar had yeast, high moisture and moulds. But he dismissed claims the sugar contained mercury as earlier had been reported, adding that the sugar in the market across the country is safe for consumption.

“The main concern was the high moisture content in the sugar as a result of poor handling in the traders’ facilities,” Mr Munya clarified.

The government has, therefore, ordered for the immediate destruction of the sugar consignments that failed the standards test, and which is currently being held at various warehouses across the country.

The sugar that passed the standard test, on the other hand, will be released to the owners.

During the survey, the government also drew 261 samples of sugar from 45 counties to ascertain its quality. So far, Kebs has tested 82 samples, equivalent of 28 counties. Of these, 31 samples or 38 percent failed the test. Only 51 samples passed the test.

Additionally, the government seized 7.7 tonnes of industrial sugar (white refined sugar) and subjected it to tests. So far, Kebs has released 3.5 tonnes of this sugar to the owners upon confirmation of compliance while the results for the remaining 4.2 tonnes are yet to be released.       


During the exercise, the government also confiscated 40 consignments of edible oils at the port of Mombasa, suspected to have found their way into the country irregularly.

Twenty-five of the consignments (63 percent) failed the test of quality in respect to Vitamin A.

These oils will also be destroyed according to government procedures.

In a move to curb infiltration of substandard goods into the country, the government has suspended printing and issuance of the import standardisation mark (ISM) that applies to all imported goods entering the country. 

The government has also vowed to take stiff measures against its officers who will be found guilty of negligence. 

“If anyone is found to have supervised, abetted or facilitated the entry of substandard goods into the country, they will be dealt with in accordance with the law,” Munya warned.

Munya also called for close collaboration between different government agencies and industry players in the fight against contraband.

Contrabands and counterfeits are considered a big threat to the government’s tax revenues, manufacturing and to public health and safety.