Rift valley regional commissioner Maalim Mohamed flanked by Anti -counterfeit officials addressing the press in Nakuru on December 6,2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Rift Valley region is losing upwards of Sh10 million monthly in contraband and counterfeit goods.

Regional Commissioner Mohamed Maalim told a sensitisation forum with officers from both the anti-counterfeit agency and border management that out of 14 counties in the region, Nakuru was leading in bogus goods.

“We have a consultative meeting with a team from the Border Management and Anti Counterfeit Authority (ACA) on issues to do with counterfeits and the aim of the ACA initiative is to empower us, as representatives of government,” said Mr Maalim.  

On November 14, Mr Maalim launched a 100-day Rapid Results Initiative to fight counterfeit alcohol drinks, narcotic substances and illicit brews across the region, with goods worth Sh10 million confiscated within a month.

Apart from counterfeits -- mainly alcoholic beverages and other goods -- losing the country revenue, the goods are also harmful to consumers. The regional commissioner said there were unscrupulous businessmen and women who were thriving at the expense of genuine enterprises, distorting revenues and creating unfair competition.

“We assure citizens that we will confront the vice (counterfeiting) irrespective of what it will cost; the government is determined to ensure that the country is counterfeit-free,” said Mr Maalim.

He warned government officers who condoned contraband and illicit trade that their days were numbered.  

Mr Kennedy Nyaiyo, the Border Management unit director, said the organisation was tasked with sensitising and empowering officers to fight counterfeit goods, adding that many industries were collapsing due to revenue leakages.

“This fight is real, and I’m happy that the government’s approach is being embraced so that by January 1, 2023, we will have weeded out counterfeits,” he said. Nyaiyo said surveillance at border points and porous borders had been heightened by engaging communities on the need for vigilance on goods entering and leaving the country.

Mr Yusuf Osman, the Anti-Counterfeit Authority director, said the public needed a platform to understand fake goods and ensure that they were confiscated at source.

“With a multi-agency team, we will ensure that even those (counterfeits) that have found their way into the country are seized so as to keep the public safe from counterfeits. “We want to ensure that all brand owners have registered with us, depositing their legitimate documents to enable easy tracing of counterfeits in the market,” said Osman.

The director said the government expected that private entities would join efforts to fight the counterfeits menace.

Mr Osman said characteristics of counterfeits were dynamic, ranging from pricing and affordability, and with proper sensitisation, consumers would pick them apart.