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Police arrest bus crew, seize contraband goods in operation on Nairobi-Garissa highway

By Cyrus Ombati | February 2nd 2020

A driver and two conductors were arrested after a bus they were in was found carrying suspected contraband goods along the Nairobi-Garissa highway.

The bus company has since been suspended from the business by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA).

The bus was racing to Nairobi from Dadaab when it was stopped at Ngutani by a multi-agency team.

Inspector-General of Police Hilary Mutyambai said preliminary inspection of the vehicle revealed that the under-floor of the passenger compartment had been illegally modified and fitted with secret storage bins, which were stuffed with the goods.

Among the goods seized included 49 cartons of Batook chewing gum, four cartons containing 25 pieces of Tres Orix-Forte appetite stimulant, five boxes containing 1000 sachets of pain-relieving tablets and 286 tins of Red Cow milk powder (each 2.5kgs).

Police said they also seized 37 tins of Anchor milk powder (each 2.5kgs) and 42 tins of Nura milk powder (each 2.5kgs).

“The manner and design of the said partitions not only allow for the concealment and transport of contraband goods but may also be used to ferry dangerous weapons and explosives,” said Mutyambai.

He said they are investigating to establish the motor vehicle fabricators behind the design and modification of the bus for action.

The incident comes days after Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i ordered security agencies in North Eastern to immediately stop the movement of contraband goods.

He said the goods are funding terror activities in the country after they are sold.

Matiang’i said local sympathisers and trade in contraband goods from Somalia were a great challenge in the fight against terrorism.

Most of these goods pass through unofficial routes and end up in Kenyan markets. Levies put on the goods end up in Al-Shabaab pockets.

He made the remarks when he met security officials in Garissa Town. The meeting was attended by regional, county and sub county security committees.

President Kenyatta had told a meeting of security chiefs in Mombasa to end any means that enables the enemy to generate income from Kenya or receive funds.

“Specifically, any and all means by which the enemy is able to generate income from Kenya or to receive funds through our Country, including contraband and illicit trade must be brought to an immediate end,” he said.

He told the officials to undertake the strongest possible measures against actors and dynamics that enable terrorists to operate in or against the country by ensuring that all economic linkages with terrorists are cut. 

The president said smuggling and contraband from neighbouring countries directly fund Al-Shabaab, which on the other side of the border illegally levies taxes that they then use to sustain their operations.

“This must stop. I also expect more of the major sponsors of terrorism to be dealt with, not least by ensuring they are listed nationally and internationally so that there is a tangible impact on their businesses, organizations, and ability to operate.”

Most smuggled goods include rice, sugar, powder milk and construction materials.

He said the country needs stronger multinational frameworks for countering terrorism financing structures in the region. 

Kenyatta told the officials to target recruiters for terrorist and mount operations to flush out terrorist operatives and all sleeper-cells in the region and Coastal Regions.

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