NCPB to make final call on maize: Minister

May 20, 2009
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 20 – The decision to destroy or deport the contaminated maize that is being detained at the Port of Mombasa now lies squarely with the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), a government official has said.

Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey told reporters on Wednesday that as far as he is concerned, the maize saga had ended and therefore the NCPB should decide what to do with the grain.

“It has been confirmed that this maize is still at the port and it’s up to the importers to destroy it or do whatever they want to do with it,” he said.

Speaking during celebrations to mark the World Meteorology Day, the Minister defended the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) over incompetence claims due to its handling of the maize issue.

Initially, the Bureau had indicated that the 6,300 Metric Tonnes of the controversial consignment contained Aluminium Phosphide and was therefore not fit for human consumption but later backtracked and said the maize was clean.

“We as a standards and testing body, we did our part and that’s it,” Mr Kosgey under whose docket KEBS falls maintained.

He, however, refused to comment on the affidavit that was allegedly sworn by KEBS Managing Director Eng Kioko Mang’eli saying that he had been coerced by individuals in the Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s office to release the said grains and that they were not involved in the off-loading of the maize.

“I don’t know that…that is not a question to be directed to the Minister,” Mr Kosgey retorted.

He however assured the public that KEBS is a highly qualified body but added that it’s now up to the Bureau to restore its integrity and trust among Kenyans.

Mr Odinga has recently hinted that reforms would be carried to restructure the Bureau but Mr Kosgey who carefully avoided the question only called on KEBS to work on its credibility.

He attested to the Bureau’s professionalism and accuracy in their testing and said politics should not be brought into the matter.

“As a scientist, I know the results they give are credible. But because of circumstances, people are trying to cast doubt on a result and it’s up to them to re-establish their trustworthiness,” Mr Kosgey said while explaining that the agency has laboratory equipment worth millions of shillings.

He blamed the recent uproar over the circulation and possible sale of the spoiled maize in various parts of the country on scepticism among Kenyans and said that there was no cause for alarm.

“I can understand, Kenyans have become suspicious, they don’t trust one another but we should return back to normalcy particularly in an issue like scientific results. An analytical result should not be doubted at all,” he added.

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