Some of the goods intercepted by customs officers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) passenger terminal.[Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has collected Sh51 million revenue in four months (between July and November) from goods intercepted by customs officers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) passenger terminal.

The goods include sex toys, shisha, bleaching creams, drones, guns, toy guns, handcuffs, walkie talkies, and viagra packs among others, which KRA says were being smuggled into the country between July and October 2023.

 According to KRA Commissioner General Humphrey Wattanga, the customs department at the airport intercepted 132 prohibited items and 431 restricted items in a total of 440 interceptions.

 The items were discovered after passengers underwent the KRA passenger inspection stations.

 Wattanga said that KRA is committed to ensuring that passengers are treated with dignity and respect while enforcing the customs laws and regulations.

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 “We are not here to harass or embarrass anyone, but to facilitate trade and protect the country from harmful and illegal goods,” Wattanga said.

He also urged passengers to declare their goods and avoid carrying prohibited and restricted items that could land them in trouble.

Wattanga spoke on Tuesday during a media tour of the JKIA passenger terminal by Tourism Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua, who expressed concern over the harassment of visitors by some KRA officials.

Mutua said that Kenya’s ranking as a preferred tourist destination could further decline if the visitors are not treated well.

At the same time, Mutua defended the customs officers conducting their duty as stipulated by the law.

This comes a few days after a public outcry, with Kenyans raising concerns over the alleged mistreatment and being forced to pay import tax upon entry.

 

 Tourism and Wildlife CS Alfred Mutua (2nd right) with the Commissioner-General of Kenya Revenue Authority(KRA) Humphrey Wattanga (right) check the systems when they toured the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport(JKIA), Nairobi on November 7, 2023 on customer care handling. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Mutua said that weapons and firearms whose sales in Kenya are limited and subject to government clearance should not be allowed to enter the country without proper authorization.

 “Kenya is a peaceful and hospitable country, but we cannot afford to compromise our security by allowing illegal arms and explosives to enter our borders. We have to be vigilant and alert at all times,” Mutua said.

 KRA Passenger Terminus Manager at JKIA, Sally Sarem, explained that the passenger clearance process involves disembarkation of passengers, port health, immigration, baggage hall (customs), and exit.

 On Thursday, KRA clarified that used personal effects, items, and goods valued up to USD 500 (Sh75,000) are exempt from customs duties and import tax.

 But, the taxman has revealed that plans are underway to review the law to include a higher limit.

 “As per the law affecting all East African Countries, goods of up to the value of USD 500 for each traveler are exempted from import tax, in so far as the baggage is accompanied and declared to the Customs Officer. However, KRA is in the process of reviewing this regulation to a higher limit,” the statement read in part.

 The Authority explained that the scanning of traveler’s luggage only aims at ensuring correct declarations for the purpose of taxation, and also to screen out prohibited and restricted goods.

 “Items flagged out after the first line x-ray/non-intrusive scanning process will undergo a physical inspection by the Customs Officer,” it said, adding that it is in the process incorporating technology to enhance non-intrusive inspection of baggage at all points of entry.