The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has seized 24 containers at the Mombasa port with contraband goods worth over Sh150 million in yet another smuggling racket.
Twenty one of the forty-foot containers were stuffed with new clothes but declared in import documents as coolers while the other three contained powder milk.
The goods have a customs value of Sh75 million, according to Joseph Kaguru, chief manager in charge of port operations.
“This is the largest single seizure by the authority which was done after scanning…out of the 24 containers, 21 contained new garments and shoes disguised as cold rooms being imported by horticultural farms.
“Three of the containers had milk powder disguised as flasks and sewing machines,” he said on Thursday.
“We have also suspended the operations of a company that entered documents in our system pertaining to 10 other containers that were part of this consignment and investigations on the company have commenced,” he told journalists at the port after witnessing the opening of the containers.
Importer based in Nairobi
He said the importer of the 21 containers was based in Nairobi while the milk was to be delivered to a company in Uganda, adding that the Ugandan importer might have been a proxy to allow dumping of goods into the country.
According to the official, KRA had embraced more intelligence sharing, risk management and use of scanners, which was yielding fruits in the fight against import of contraband goods.
“In addition, the authority has acquired three more scanners in the port to enhance capacity in intercepting contrabands,” Mr Kaguru said.
At the same time, the taxman has seized three containers with batteries meant for export.
Export of batteries is prohibited in the country, in a move intended to protect local industries.
The batteries had been delivered to the port for export to Singapore by a tea company.
“We have contacted the tea company and they have denied delivering this consignment. They are cooperating and helping us in investigations,” he said.
Two months ago, KRA announced it had unearthed a tax evasion scam at the Mombasa port involving fraudulent clearance of cargo that has seen the taxman lose over Sh100 million in revenue.
At least 104 containers were unprocedurally removed between June and July 2016.
The total number of containers cleared by customs for the two months was 40,924, implying that 99.99 per cent of cargo was cleared procedurally, KRA said.
Investigations revealed that there had been collusion between various players including importers and clearing agents, transport service providers, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and KRA staff in cargo clearance.