Nema blames KRA for disappearance of condemned sugar


Some of the contaminated sugar that was destroyed in 2018.  [File, Standard]

The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) has implicated Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) over the disappearance and sale of some 20,000 bags of condemned sugar in 2018.

The sugar had been imported from Zimbabwe to Mombasa on June 30, 2018 but the consignment was condemned and was to be destroyed. The sugar mysteriously disappeared from a warehouse at Vine Pack Industries in Thika and was sold to unsuspecting Kenyans.

Nema Director General Mamo Mamo, while appearing before the National Assembly Committee on Trade claimed that the KRA ignored advice on how to handle the condemned sugar which later vanished into thin air.

The House team was investigating the disappearance of the poisonous sugar with the aim of establishing who between the multi-agency team comprising of KRA, Nema and Kenya Bureau of Standards and the owners of Vine Pack Industries was to blame for the disappearance of the sugar.

Mamo told MPs that KRA opted to distill the condemned sugar rather than ship the consignment back to its country of origin as advised.

The Emabaksi North James Gakuya-led committee also heard that Nema only recommended for the sugar to de returned to host country, destroyed or biologically composed. To this effect, Mamo revealed that Nema had recommended six facilities where KRA could destroy the sugar but Vine pack Industries- where the sugar would later disappear - was not one of them.

“We did not in any way participate in the release of the sugar because that is the mandate of KRA. Our mandate ended at advising them to reship the sugar but after we advised them we did not get any response,” Mamo submitted.

He emphasized that Nema does not involve itself in the disposal of condemned goods that are offered for auctioning or sale via public or private treaties.

“A scrutiny of the gazette notice indicates that KRA intended to destroy the sugar by crushing it at the customs warehouse in Kilindini. It is also not clear what the end product of the crushing was to be and the fate of the same,” he said.

The Trade and Industry Committee has summoned KRA Commissioner General Humphrey Wattanga again after he failed to turn up yesterday.

Committee chairman James Gakuya ordered the KRA boss to appear before the committee without fail, failure to which the members would “explore the legal instruments available to them”.

“This committee invokes the standing orders and summons the KRA commissioner General to appear before it at a date to be communicated. We will only conclude this matter on condemned sugar once the commissioners appear before us,” stated Gakuya.