The increase of illegal routes used by evaders to sneak goods to and from Tanzania at some borders at the Coast is now giving sleepless nights to authorities.
With the vice responsible for tax evasion and losses, the government is planning a joint multiagency operation to conduct a crackdown on smuggling and contraband goods on the porous Kenya-Tanzania borders in the Coast region.
Recently, Coast Regional Coordinator John Elungata ordered while in Kwale county that the security agencies immediately launch anti-smuggling operations across the regional borders to nab criminals.
“We can’t allow this trend to continue and we have to give out a tough approach to trafficking and the seizure of all contraband goods at border points to send a signal that we are on high alert,” he said while chairing a meeting at Lunga Lunga about how to end smuggling of goods at the Coast.
With Shimoni and Vanga border points being some of the notorious areas for the vice, Mr. Elungata urged security officials in the areas to lead the crackdown to end the rampant vice.
He also said that the trade-in of illicit goods and substandard counterfeit products are a major challenge facing local manufacturers.
The trade has also robbed the government of millions of revenues due to tax evasion.
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Southern Region Coordinator Joseph Tanui said that boats, motorcycles, and unofficial routes are the ones being used to bring the goods into Kenya.
“We are going to put efforts to penetrate smuggling cartel by engaging law enforcement and intelligence agencies to ensure that we have confiscated the contraband goods,” he said.
He said KRA apart from the crackdown has planned sensitization campaigns targeting border communities to change their perception towards taxation.
The KRA official said the government was losing millions of shillings due to widespread tax evasion by unscrupulous traders.
“Smuggling of goods benefits a few people but in the long run results in the hardship of the citizens. It is important that businesspeople engage in lawful ventures only,” he said.
According to data by National Crime Research Centre in 2020, sugar accounted for nearly half of the goods smuggled across Kenya’s porous border points with 48 percent of all the incidents of smuggling involving the product with 789 cases reported in 2019.
Other popular products smuggled into the country include alcohol and illicit brews (28 percent), illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin (25.2 percent), cereals (23 percent), clothes, shoes, and handbags (12.8 percent), charcoal/coal (12 percent) and wheat and maize flour (11.3 percent).
Sugar is mainly smuggled into the country through eight counties including Garissa, Kajiado Narok and Migori followed by Mandera, Kwale, Trans Nzoia, and Busia.
However, Mr. Tanui said KRA is taking robust steps in dealing with smuggling cartels while enhancing the potential revenue from legal trade.
*This article was written by Ramadhan Kambi for Uzalendo News. Email: email@example.com to submit your story.
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