Kebs boss pressed to explain location of 500,000 sugar bags

Kieni MP Kanini Kega addresses the media at Parliament on 29/03/18. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

A government agency has failed to explain the whereabouts of 500,000 of contraband sugar impounded last year.

The sugar had been seized on suspicion that it contained mercury.

Top managers of the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) who appeared before a parliamentary committee failed to ascertain whether the sugar was destroyed or it was released.

Kebs Managing Director, Bernard Njiraini contradicted himself on the whereabouts of the sugar valued at Sh1.9 billion.

Despite being a member of the multi-agency team that is investigating the matter, Mr Njiraini said he does not know how may bags have been destroyed.

The multi- agency team comprises the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kebs and the Ministry of Trade.

“I cannot say how may bags have been destroyed,” said Njiraini,

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“If we go to the stores, we will find the sugar and if we don’t, we will find  a report that it has been destroyed.”

But the lawmakers wondered why the Kebs boss could not provide a definite answer on the matter, yet Kebs is at the centre of the probe.

Committee Chairman Kanini Kega said a tour to various go-downs where the sugar was held showed that it was not possible to open the stores without the consent of all members of the multi-agency team.

“When we went to the go-downs, there were four locks. The go-downs cannot be opened without all the members of the multi-agency team being aware," said Mr Kega.

Unknown group

"Are you saying unknown group can open and destroy the sugar without anyone knowing about it?”

The committee said it will visit the go-downs to physically confirm  the presence of the consignment.

It also questioned Kebs on the status of edible oils that were released to an importer although it had earlier been acknowledged that the oils lacked Vitamin A .

"You tested the oils in 2018, and they failed the test. How did they acquire Vitamin A later?" Kega asked.

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mercuryKebsKenya Bureau of StandardsKRAKenya Revenue Authority