ILLEGAL

Police in Bungoma seize 489 bags of contraband sugar

Three suspects were arrested and will be presented in court once investigations are completed

In Summary

• The sugar had illegally been smuggled into the country through the porous Kenya-Uganda border.

• Bungoma South DCI boss Elijah Macharia said the sugar was destined for Nakuru.

Part of the contraband sugar
Part of the contraband sugar
Image: JOHN NALIANYA

Police in Bungoma have impounded a truck ferrying 489 bags of 50kg contraband sugar from Uganda and arrested three suspects.

The sugar had been smuggled into the country through the porous Kenya-Uganda border.

Bungoma South DCI boss Elijah Macharia said it was destined for Nakuru.

He said they impounded the truck after a tip-off from members of the public that three people in a truck were using 'panya routes' that connect Kanduyi, Chwele and Kimilili to Kitale.

"The vehicle carrying the contraband sugar was seized by our officers in Sio, Kanduyi constituency," Macharia said.

"The multiagency security team is already on the ground, including Kenya Revenue Authority, DCI, Customs and others, to establish how the commodity was smuggled into the country." 

He said the three suspects will be presented in court once investigations are completed. The vehicle is at the Bungoma police station.

The arrest comes a week after one person was shot dead by police when a group of youths attempted to free a suspected contraband sugar dealer.

The officers were escorting a lorry that was impounded by police in Chwele, Bungoma, while ferrying 400 bags of 50kg of uncustomed sugar.

But upon reaching Makunga market, the officers were blocked by about 20 vehicles and motorbikes, carrying the youths, who demanded that they release the lorry.

Western regional police commander Perris Kimani said, “Our officers at Nalondo intercepted the lorry carrying contraband sugar and called in KRA because we knew the suspect must be avoiding paying taxes.”

“Verification was done by a multiagency team and we agreed the case be investigated by the DCI attached to KRA and the KRA investigations and enforcement unit so that they are prosecuted and pay taxes.” 

The sugar was suspected to have been brought into the country from Uganda.

Ten suspects were arrested during the confrontation.

The 10 were charged in a Kakamega court with several charges, including trying to obstruct police officers and assaulting an officer.

They denied the charges and were each freed on Sh20,000 bail with a surety of Sh100,000.

The impounding of uncustomed sugar and subsequent confrontation comes amid complaints by farmers of excessive cheap sugar imports by unscrupulous traders.

Through the Kenya Association of Sugar and Allied Products, farmers said that cheap sugar finds its way into the country through the porous Kenya-Uganda border.

The sugar cane pricing committee under the Agriculture and Food Authority reduced prices for a tonne of sugarcane from Sh4,040 to Sh3,833 three weeks ago, citing saturation of local markets with the commodity.

Edited by A.N

Contraband sugar
Contraband sugar
Image: JOHN NALIANYA