|More than 775 pieces of ivory estimated to be worth Sh29 million were impounded at the port of Mombasa. [PHOTO: MAARUF MOHAMMED/Standard]|
By ERNEST NDUNDA
MOMBASA; KENYA: More than 775 pieces of ivory estimated to be worth Sh29 million have been impounded at the port of Mombasa.
The ivory was hidden among dry fish in a container from Uganda destined for Malaysia.
A combined force of Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Port Police and the Kenya Ports Authority intercepted the 1,476.4kg packed into a 20-foot container on Tuesday.
The impounded pieces included 1,294.2kg of raw ivory and 194.2kg of worked ivory.
KRA Deputy Commissioner in charge of Port Operations Mr John Changole said on Wednesday that the authority’s law enforcement officers started tracking the suspicious container since June 13 when it entered at the Malaba border.
Addressing the press at the Port Police on Wednesday after thorough verification, Changole said the container was expected to be at the port of Mombasa few days after it crossed the Malaba boarder.
However, Changole said the tracking systems showed that the container had not made it to the port as expected and his tracking unit embarked on a mission to trace it.
“My officers managed to trace the container to a private yard in Changamwe, Mombasa County,” said the senior KRA officer.
He said a combined force of KRA, KWS and police invaded the yard and discovered the container and took it to the port police.
“We positively identified the container as the one cleared at the Malaba boarder and after verification, we found out that what was declared as dry fish maw was stashed with hundreds of pieces of ivory,” said Changole who was flanked by senior officers from KRA, KWS, police officers and KPA management.
Dry fish maw is typically used to make stitching threads.
“Illicit trade in ivory has been escalating as those involved in the trade keep on looking for new methods of trading,” said Changole.
The officer confirmed that the police had questioned the owner of the yard and the clearing agent.
Police said those arrested were helping the police with investigations.
Mombasa Port is prone to contrabands cargo forcing government agencies to be vigilant to avert smuggling.