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Crackdown on illicit trade intensified

The  government has intensified the crackdown on contraband goods sneaked into the country through Lake Victoria from neighbouring countries.

The  Homa Bay County Commissioner (CC), Yatich  Kipkemei directed security, immigration and Kenya Revenue Authority officials to strengthen surveillance along the border inside of the lake to prevent the illegal trade.

Kipkemei cited areas within Mbita Sub-County and Suba Sub-county as entry points of contraband and illegal goods, mostly drugs, beer and other cheap alcoholic products from Uganda and Tanzania.

He noted that unscrupulous businessmen from the neighbouring countries could easily get into Kenya without being detected.

“Some business operators take advantage of the vast nature of the lake to bring in goods that are illegal. Officers in charge of protecting the Kenyan territory at the border on the lake should therefore be more vigilant when on duty to prevent such business operators from getting into the country,” Mr Kipkemei said.

The administrator spoke  on Monday when he toured Mbita Town and met area sub county security team including officers from Lake Victoria Patrol Base and the immigration department.

The  Suba North MP, Millie Odhiambo accompanied the County Commissioner to the meeting.

Kipkemei said Kenya would lose revenue if contraband goods are allowed into the country.

“The cheap untaxed goods are brought into the Kenyan market thus killing the local enterprises. This will have a negative impact on the economy of our country,” he said.

He told beach management officials and local fishermen to cooperate with police officers in identifying the dealers of illegal products.

“Those who use these products should stop and report suspects for necessary legal action. Some of the products are dangerous to human life,” Kipkekei said.

Ms. Odhiambo said her office will offer support to security officers when undertaking their duties.

The office of the MP is currently undertaking a construction project of divisional headquarters, including the office of the Mbita Deputy County Commissioner and other officers working under the Ministry of Interior within Mbita Town.

“We intend to construct four police stations within Sub North constituency. We also want to improve the living standard of the officers by building them modern residences to boost their morale,”Ms. Odhiambo said.

The legislator told the locals to embrace Nyumba Kumi model of community policing, noting  that some traders along the lake are only identified by alias names.

She observed that if such nameless individuals commit crime and disappear, it would be difficult for security officers to trace them because they move to other locations and use a different name. “All beach officials should have a list of people operating in their area,” Ms. Odhiambo said.

The legislator added that she is currently in talks with Kenya Power and Rural Electrification Authority to install street lights in areas that have reposted increased security threats.

By  Davis Langat

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