Agencies to conduct joint border patrols to tame smuggling

Unaccustomed sugar that was nabbed by KRA at the Busia border recently. [Photo: IGnatius Odanga/Standard]
The lack of scanners and sniffer dogs at the Busia border is hindering the war against smuggling.

According to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), this has resulted in the Busia One Stop Border Post (OSBP) being named among the most notorious for attracting unscrupulous traders who bring in contraband sugar.

KRA Western Regional Coordinator John Gathatwa yesterday said monitoring the porous border from Lwakhakha to Osieko also proved a major challenge in the fight to stop influx of uncustomed goods from Uganda.

Joint verification

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In an interview with The Standard, Mr Gathatwa said the agency had reached an agreement with the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and other State bodies to conduct patrols along the border to tackle the smuggling menace.

“We have enhanced joint verification with other government agencies. Consignments are currently being subjected to thorough scrutiny,” he said.

The KRA and URA, Mr Gathatwa said, would also be sharing information expected to lead to impounding of suspected consignments entering either country.

He said the taxman had also rolled out a programme to create awareness among communities living along the border on the need to pay taxes, and the consequences of smuggling.

Lot of hostility

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“There is hostility from the surrounding community, especially in Marachi. Recently, a multi-agency team was attacked in the area during an operation,” said Gathatwa, adding: “It is the taxes they pay that the Government uses to roll out development projects. We must learn to pay taxes and avoid using shortcuts.”

In the 2015/2016 financial year, KRA raised Sh818 million at the Busia border against a target of Sh979 million.

In the subsequent fiscal year, the taxman recorded an increase in revenue collection. According to Gathatwa, they netted Sh1.4 billion after targeting to collect Sh958 million.

And despite the long electioneering period and its aftermath in the 2017/2018 financial year, Gathatwa noted, KRA raised Sh1.3 billion revenue against a target Sh1.1 billion.

Not true

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The regional coordinator also downplayed claims that some KRA officers aided the entry of substandard goods into the country. “It is not true. Our officers release goods subject to certification by other relevant border agencies.”

Last week, KRA made some staff changes, with Gathatwa, who was previously the chief manager, customs and border control, taking over from Kevin Safari.

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