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Patriotism a sure way of securing our borders

FINANCIAL STANDARD
By William Ojonyo | Dec 16th 2014 | 3 min read
By William Ojonyo | December 16th 2014
FINANCIAL STANDARD

The idea that security begins with you is particularly apt when it comes to cargo evacuation from sea ports, airports and border points.

We tend to focus more on Immigration department officers working at border points and airports to ensure only vetted and cleared passengers, either in transit or destined for Kenya are allowed entry. We all acknowledge that this reduces the risk of having the wrong people gain entry into our territory.

However, the same importance should be displayed at entry and exit points to vet and verify all cargo, whether for local consumption or in transit to landlocked countries.

Intelligence on what comes into the country and what goes out is just as important as intelligence on who comes into the country and exits.

Import consumption

When a passenger is travelling a lot in and out the country, he or she becomes a frequent flier whose records are often captured to ensure their lifestyle matches the movement. In the same manner, an importer who is always importing specific cargo to a specific destination must account for this kind of consumption.

This important information can only be captured by clearing agents who share the same platform with customs officers during declaration, release and eventual forwarding to the importer.

All customs departments must adopt the ‘know your customer’ philosophy to ensure representation with knowledge.

We have cases of traders who arrive in the country as businessmen only to turn out to be terrorism planners, whose intention from the very beginning was to unleash atrocities on our territory.

It is for this reason that I urge all cargo handlers, especially customs agents and customs officers, who by virtue of their roles must handle and verify cargo before its release into the or through the country, to be more vigilant.

Unequivocal patriotism is the only sure way of sharing all information with the right people on the character of all importers and exporters. We must, as Kenyans, take it upon ourselves to ensure we know our customers well enough to trust what they declare.

But most importantly, we need to verify all consignments in transit or otherwise to ensure we know everything going through our ports or border points.

It should not be taken for granted that customs officers are given similar powers to those of a police officer. They have the mandate to arrest and impound importers, agents and goods if they feel that letting loose of any of the above may create a security risk of any kind to the country.

MONETARY GAINS

We need to invest in Kenyans who are willing to put their love for country and adherence to the law above any monetary gains.

Customs agents and officers need to work together to ensure a synchronised flow of information, not only for goods, but also for importers.

It is not for nothing that countries want total control in securing and controlling all traffic, both human or otherwise, that transits through ports and borders.

Let us undertake that as Kenyans, we will take full responsibility for the movement of cargo in and out of our country, and share any information necessary to ensure a safer Kenya.

The writer is managing director, Keynote Logistics.

[email protected]

 

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