By Donald Kogai
Milk vendor and his driver were arraigned before Lodwar Senior
Principal Magistrate’s court to plead on charges of smuggling over 60
tonnes of sugar and 3 tonnes of milk powder from Uganda amounting to
over Kshs 5 million in taxes.
Abdihakim Kusow Ali, the owner of the consignment and Philip Kosgei
Kirwa, his driver both appeared before Chief Magistrate Mwangi Karimi
to separately answer to charges of possession and that of conveying of
restricted goods respectively. The court heard that the two accused
persons committed the offences on 13th January, 2021 at Nakwamekwi area
within Lodwar town.
Kusow Ali faces a charge of possession of 1,436 bags of Mayuge Brown
sugar packed in 50 kg and 25 kg and 124 bags of Latto milk powder each
weighing 25kg with a total duty value of Kshs 3,895,450. On his part,
Philip Kosgei faces a charge of conveying 430 bags of Mayuge Brown
sugar with a duty value of Kshs 1,505,000.
Both the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the respective counts
and were each granted a bond of Kshs 300,000 or a surety of a similar
amount or a cash bail of Kshs 150,000 each. The case will be mentioned
on 3rd March 2021.
Importation of sugar is regulated and importers are required to obtain
importation licence and a pre- shipment permit for each consignment.
The licences and permits are checked by customs officers at the border
at the time of importation for clearance and payment of requisite
taxes. To avoid these strict customs processes at designated border
points such as Lokiriama and Karita, unscrupulous importers smuggle in
goods at night through undesignated border points.
The smugglers have also developed a serious network of counter
surveillance trailing the movement of KRA officers and other government
agencies charged with border security. However, KRA strives to detect
and disrupt all tax evasion schemes and prosecute suspects to ensure
that all importers comply with customs regulations and pay their fair
share of taxes.