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KWS loses bid to block transshipment of rosewood to Hong Kong

By Julius Chepkwony | May 12th 2022 | 3 min read
A photo of  Rosewood timber. [iStock Image]

The Kenya Wildlife Service has lost its bid to block the transshipment of over Sh23 million worth of rosewood held at the Port of Mombasa.

This is after the Environment and Lands Court in Mombasa ordered KWS to ensure the issuance of export clearance for the purposes of transshipment of 37 containers of the consignment belonging to Shihua Industry Alliance Company Limited.

Presiding Judge Lucas Naikuni directed KWS to issue a permit and clearance to the satisfaction of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for purpose of shipment of the consignment.

“Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) be and is hereby authorized to ensure the issuance of such permit and or export clearance documents or diplomatic authorisation by such authorised statutory body to the satisfaction of CITES for purposes of transshipment of the consignment held and seized belonging to the 1st Respondent (Shihua Industry) within the next three (3) days from the date of this ruling without fail,” read part of the judgment delivered on May 9.

Justice Naikuni directed that no person, officers, agency and or institution should place any objections, embargoes, or restrictions on the consignment valued at over Sh23 million.

The judge further directed that there be a site visit on May 20, 2022, at the Kenya Ports Authority in Kilindini harbour of the containers.

He ordered verification of the contents of the said containers by the court, stuffing to fresh containers and release thereof in accordance with and in lawful compliance in the presence of the court for purposes of transshipment to the designated destination.

He said failure to comply with the orders will cause the KWS Director in person to be committed to civil jail for a reasonable period for being in contempt of the Court orders.

The ship carrying the consignment docked at the Mombasa Port on May 19, 2014, at 5:36 PM with containers of rosewood for transshipment from Madagascar to Hong Kong, China.

KWS at the time of docking had received information of the goods alleged to be illegal rosewood.

Rosewood is among the heavily trafficked types of timber globally.

Court papers indicate that the containers were verified by a Multi-Agency group consisting of KWS, Director of Criminal Investigation office (DCI), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the Kenya Port Authorities (KPA) and a representation of the involved shipping line – Pacific International Lines (PIL).

It was established that all the 37 containers contained what was believed to be “Malagey rosewood Dalbergia Spp”.

Documents accompanying the goods included a certificate of origin issued by the Madagascar Ministry of Forestry and Environment certifying a consignment of 7,100 pieces of wood.

The suit papers indicate that no CITES permits were produced because the position of the consignor, clearing agent and consignee was that the shipment consisted of ordinary wood.

Upon conducting investigations the goods were detained which compelled Shihua Industry Alliance Company Limited to move to court. The lower court heard the case and on November 29, 2018, ordered the release of the consignment.

KWS, dissatisfied with the decision of the court to have the goods released lodged an appeal. Upon hearing the appeal, Justice Naikuni rendered a judgment in favour of the company.

On November 29, 2021, vide occurrence book-entry No OB/37/29/11/2021 the DCIO at the Port Police Station Kilindini Mombasa the court noted released the goods to the company and let to the current issue of the issuance of the CITES Permit Certificate to enable safe transit of the goods to Hong Kong.

Mombasa County Conservator insisted that though CITES permits and certificates are issued by a country of origin from where the goods emanated from and indeed they already had expired arising from the illegal and irregular seizure of the goods by KWS.

The conservator said KWS should take full responsibility to ensure the company was placed back to the seat it was on before the seizure by being facilitated to tranship the consignment without any difficulties.

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