, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 18 – At least 25 suspects are being held by authorities in connection with the importation of contraband goods valued at Sh1.2 billion.
Deputy Head of Public Service Wanyama Musiambo told reporters on Monday that investigations are underway to establish the owners of some 89 forty-feet containers with products that are either counterfeits or substandard.
The containers being held at the Nairobi Inland Container Depot (ICD) also comprised of items concealed for purposes of tax evasion, according to Musiambo.
“The persons manning the warehouses from where counterfeits are confiscated may not necessarily be the owners although they could be part of the syndicate. We want to establish the owners,” he said adding that more suspects will be arraigned in court.
Among products seen by Capital FM News at the ICD were fake vehicle spare parts and building material.
Among the concealed items, there were ready-made garments valued at Sh11 million, 600 rolls of electric cables worth Sh9 million, assorted electrical items in four containers worth Sh80 million, and cooking oil in nine containers estimated to be worth Sh10.8 million.
There were also counterfeit goods most of which were imitations of locally manufactured products.
They include 148 rolls of electric cables branded as East African Cables worth 600 million, 12,000 bulbs valued a Sh1.8 million, and 37 boxes of Toyota spared parts worth Sh500,000.
Other counterfeits were 7,500 GOtv branded decoders worth Sh22.5 million, galvanized iron sheets worth Sh6 million, and 46 containers of cigarettes.
Musiambo said a multi-agency team had been put in place to ensure safe disposal of the counterfeits.
“These items have to be destroyed in the appropriate manner that is environment-friendly,” he said.
Musiambo vowed to crack the whip on traders behind the proliferation of counterfeit goods in the country which the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) has singled out as a major impediment to the growth of the manufacturing sector.
He reiterated the government’s commitment to rid the Kenyan market of counterfeits in order to increase the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product to at least fifteen per cent within the next five years.
“We must clean the country of illicit trade because when we grow the manufacturing sector we will create wealth and jobs,” the former Rift Valley Regional Coordinator said.
The latest seizure on 89 containers comes at a time the country is struggling to win the war against illicit trade with a recent report by a government chemist revealing that imported sugar nabbed by the police contained traces of copper and mercury.
“I am not under any illusion that we engaged in a very serious war. A war that could be means anything; it could mean even the lives of these officers and some of us,” Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi said when Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss George Kinoti displayed tones of the sugar imported illegally from Brazil on Wednesday last week.
Mercury, according to the World Health Organization has far-reach health effects owing to its corrosive nature.
The ingestion of mercury could cause kidney toxicity that can ultimately lead to kidney failure.