KENYA: Illegal sugar has traces copper and mercury

Published: 06/13/2018, 5:25:29 PM

Detectives have nabbed another consignment of contraband sugar, even as a report by the Government chemist reveals shocking details about the content of the previous one, according to Kenya's CapitalFM.

According to the report, the sugar, which was 1,474 bags (50Kg's) had traces of mercury and copper, all hazardous to human.

On Tuesday detectives seized more than a thousand bags of sugar and a mass scale packaging machine worth Sh25 million in a warehouse in Ruiru.

The machine has a capacity of packaging 5,000 bales per hour.

But the Government has vowed to crack down on the cross-border syndicate of contraband and counterfeit goods.

And for this, Cabinet Secretary for Interior Fred Matiangi says he is willing to pay the ultimate price, but get rid of the contraband goods ranging from adulterated fuel, sugar, electronics and so on.

They are flooded in the economy, hampering genuine businesses and local farmers.

"It is shocking when you look at some of the things we have discovered. It is shocking what we are doing to ourselves and to the country," the CS said.

"The level of criminality involved is mind-boggling, that there are people in our country who make money by selling goods they know for sure are poisonous."

He revealed that some powerful "forces" have been calling, issuing threats over the crackdown initiated by President Uhuru Kenyatta himself.

And the "war on contrabands" is so intricate, he said, that it may cost his life and that of other senior Government officials as well as that of the detectives involved.

"I want to be frank with the people of Kenya that we have to change the way we live. We are not going to be polite about this," he said of what he termed as "a white-collar job."

The war, he said has a backing of the President.

"This is a different ball game. For those who have been making phone calls and threatening people, we are not deluded that we are engaging in a very serious war. A war that could mean everything, it could mean the lives of some of these officers and some of us, but we are ready," the CS said while making reference to the people who lost their lives for the Independence.

He said the economy was already hurt, a trend that if it continues will only worsen the situation.

Already, 3 Eastleigh retailers have been arrested and arraigned in court.

But according to a senior detective involved in the ongoing crackdown, the real sugar barons are people highly networked, some within the agencies supposed to stop the menace like the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), Kenya Revenue Authority and police at the country entry points and so on.

The detective revealed that one is an elected influential politician in the country while another is a relative of a Central Kenya legislator.

"They will be arrested. We are narrowing down on them..." the officer assured.

Those behind the illicit trade are said to be muzzling local manufacturers and are involved in tax evasion besides exposing citizens to health risks and national security threats attributed to the black market.