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Illicit sugar from Uganda too sweet for rogue traders

By Robert Amalemba | Nov 11th 2021 | 3 min read
By Robert Amalemba | November 11th 2021
Mumias Sugar Company Security officer in charge of Counterfeit Osborn Amunga (right in green T-shirt) inspects the incarnation and destruction of 278 bags of counterfeit Sugar that was packed in illegal Mumias Sugar Company bags at a Changamwe Go-down in Mombasa County on Monday May 4, 2015. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has recovered Sh20 million in taxes from people dealing in illegal sugar imports across the porous Kenya-Uganda border.

The taxman now fears that Kenya could be losing unknown amounts in revenues because of the trade that is rampant on the porous Kenya-Uganda border.

Speaking in Kakamega town yesterday, Pamela Ahago, KRA Western Region boss, said the money was recovered after the Authority disrupted smuggling schemes through prosecutions and alternative dispute resolution processes.

“We also intercepted and detained 13 vehicles between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021 involved in the vice in Western Kenya,” she said.

“Isaac Mburu Itotia, Caroline Achieng Kitisia and Edwin Sikuku are some of the suspects with cases in court over illegal importation.”

The smugglers are keen on avoiding major entry points along the Northern Corridor at Busia and Malaba towns which serve as the legitimate entry and exit points.

Between September 16 and October 1 this year, police in Western Kenya confiscated at least 1,169 bags of contraband sugar from Uganda estimated at Sh6 million.

The seizure of another consignment of 400 bags at the Busia-Uganda border turned dramatic as it was being escorted to KRAs regional offices in Kisumu.

About 20 goons intercepted the sugar which was being guarded by the Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit (CIPU) and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

“The goons blocked the officers headed to Kisumu’s KRA offices on September, 19,” said Peris Kimani, the Western Regional police boss. “We had to seek backup from Kakamega to secure the contraband.”

Some five days after the Kisumu confrontation, police seized yet another truck at Matungu with 200 bags of contraband sugar from Uganda.

A day later, a 14-seater Matatu was intercepted with 80 bags of Ugandan sugar labeled with Nzoia Sugar stickers on the Busia-Mumias road.

On September 30, police seized yet another 489 bags of sugar from Uganda at the porous border between the two countries.

Bungoma South DCI boss Elijah Macharia said the sugar was destined for Nakuru where it sells for between Sh100 and Sh120 a kilo.

The production cost of the commodity in Uganda is low and a kilo goes for between Sh65 and Sh80 at wholesale price compared to Sh90 and Sh98 in Kenya.

A police source said the illegal sugar is stored in warehouses in Busia and Bungoma. It is then repackaged in bags branded with names of Kenyan companies. 

“The smugglers mainly use Toyota Wish, trucks, pro-box and motorbikes to bring in the sugar through Alupe, Busitema, Adungosi, Marachi, Soko Matope Amoni and Sofia routes on the border,” he said. “The vehicles move at great speed, they have killed innocent pedestrians but nothing is done all because the trade is under very influential people.”

Local sugar businessmen and farmers said the illegal trade has killed their businesses. “It’s the farmer who suffers whenever the price of sugarcane drops because of influx of cheap sugar in the country,” said Peter Odima, Secretary General of the Kenya Association of Sugar and Allied Products.

There are about 300,000 small-scale sugarcane farmers. There are 4,500 large-scale sugarcane farmers

Agriculture CS Peter Munya said the government is determined to protect local sugarcane farmer.?

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