KRA dumps contraband from Joho godown at sea

KENYA Revenue Authority officials yesterday destroyed 130 containers of contraband sugar, ethanol and rice at the port of Mombasa.

The consignment, which included 18 containers of contraband sugar from Brazil, 49 containers of rice and 63 of ethanol, was seized in several Container Freight Stations.

The ethanol was valued at Sh288 million while the sugar’s total value stood at Sh56 million.

The CFSs – Autoports, Portside and Compact – are owned by the family of Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho.

But importers have threatened to move to court to challenge the police’s move to close the stations, even after a court had allowed reopening on Tuesday.

The ethanol and sugar were impounded at Autoports on January 15 by officers from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and KRA.

An earlier destruction plan in the presence of President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Mwakirunge dumpsite aborted after KRA resolved to destroy the products out at sea.

KRA officials emptied 450 tonnes of sugar and 1,225 tonnes of rice into a barge. A single 40-foot container has a capacity of 25 tonnes of sugar or rice packed in 50Kg bags.

The ethanol was also poured into the sea.

KRA Commissioner of Customs Julius Musyoki clarified that the rice consignment was not an illicit cargo.

“The rice consignment consists of cargo initially destined for Uganda, but whose owner failed to claim it. The goods were condemned by the Kenya Bureau of Standards as unfit for human consumption,” said Musyoki.

He said KRA will continue enforcing the law against illicit trade by closing stations and prosecuting owners and managers.

Last Thursday, KRA closed down the two freight stations for holding contraband, but the paramilitary GSU moved in and shut them down again on Tuesday shortly after reopening.

Musyoki declined to comment about the closure saying, “a detailed comprehensive report will be prepared and released to the public later”.

Autoports operations manager Salim Juma said they have been told to resume operations today.

“We are waiting for a written confirmation to resume full operations,” he said.

He said the presence of the heavily armed officers on Tuesday afternoon caused fear among staff who will now report today.

He said the two firms clear hundreds of containers every day and have incurred huge loses.

Meanwhile, Association of Importers of Kenya chairman Peter Mambembe said Tuesday’s move by GSU officers violated the rights of both local and regional importers.

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