Customs officials at the Busia one-stop border post on Tuesday destroyed counterfeit and illegal goods destined for the Kenyan market. They said the goods were worth Sh13.5 million.
The goods did not comply with various laws and rules, said Mr Kevin Safari, the Kenya Revenue Authority Deputy Commissioner. He is also the Western Regional Coordinator.
Mr Safari presided over the destruction of the illegal goods alongside officials from the National Environment Management Authority, Uganda Revenue Authority, Kenya Bureau of Standards and county environment department.
The consignment included 150kg of bhang, five tonnes of Pine Red and Richman branded cigarettes, several packets of Amira skin lightening cream and 15 kilogrammes of sex toys.
Mr Safari said the goods, which were confiscated over a year ago, were seized through concerted efforts by the customs department to fight influx of illegal goods into the country.
“We have disposed of consignments valued at approximately Sh13.5 million through destruction. The contraband goods were meant to enter the country but upon declaration they failed to pass the quality test.
“The sex toys are prohibited under security laws as well as pornographic materials such as artificial male and female organs, which are a threat to moral standards,” he told the press outside near the site of destruction.
Some of the counterfeit cigarettes destroyed by customs officials in Busia on January 16, 2018. PHOTO | GAITANO PESSA | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Mr Safari added that KRA has installed scanners at the country’s entry points to enhance verification and detection of goods.
“We have taken several measures to crack down on importation of these goods, including deployment of sniffer dogs, which have helped to make seizures; working closely with security agents to track down smugglers; and a regional electronic cargo tracking system that helped track down diversion of goods.”
The officials destroyed the illegal products in an incinerator in phases, as some youths nearby pleaded to be given some of the products.
Mr Safari added that: “Some of these items, especially with mercury content, are goods that were being smuggled and we were able to intercept them meaning that they can still get into the market through smuggling.”
The officer added that some suspects had been arrested and some charged, while more than 10 cases were ongoing in several Kenyan courts.
He warned cross-border businessmen against trade in contraband.
“We as custom officials are still facing the challenge posed by porous borders in the sense that smugglers have made it their weapon of trade. We, however, advise businessmen to engage in clean trade to avoid risking arrests, heavy fines or losses,” said Mr Safari.
The destruction of the goods comes only a few months after the authority destroyed liquor and pharmaceutical products valued at Sh12.5 million that were confiscated at the Busia border. KRA said they did not meet required standards.
Next week, the officials plan to destroy illicit liquor in Kisumu.