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Oversight Committee seeks answers on condemned sugar

The parliamentary Committee on Trade, Industry and Cooperatives has asked for a multi-agency report on the status of 49 containers of condemned sugar that has taken too long to be destroyed.

The Committee noted that a number of containers were to be destroyed in Mombasa and the decision was that the sugar be converted into commercially viable use, but the Agencies in charge have taken over 19 years to do the work.

Led by Chairman of the Committee, James Gakuya, the legislators asked for a Report to be availed to the Committee in 14- days-time, to explain as to why up to date, the said containers are packed at Focus Container Freight Station (CFS) and the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).

“About a month ago, there was a saga of a disappearing sugar that emanated from Mombasa all the way to Thika destined for conversion. There were 40 containers of 20 ft. that were condemned and the decision was arrived that the sugar was going to be converted into ethanol and the destination was Thika, but it disappeared and went out to the public,” said Gakuya.

He said it is due to the incident that the Committee took into consideration, and while doing their normal investigation, they realised that there are a number of other containers, which are just about to be destroyed, stored in Mombasa.

“We must protect the lives of our people by making sure that whatever they consume, is the right commodity. We have KEBS that deals with standard and a multi-agency in port that actually takes action on what should be done on that particular condemned commodity,” he said.

The Embakasi North Legislator also noted that the Committee went to the ground to verify the number of containers, which they realised 48 are of the condemned sugar and one is of a donated rice that was heading to the former Ministry of Devolution and due to laxity, it fell under the basket of condemnation, as it lasted more than three years.

He said they have intervened on several issues presented to them and would like Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to provide a write up report to explain the following aspects which include that after condemnation, the Commissioner of KRA has to decide, which kind of use the commodity is headed to either for destruction, conversion or donation.

“We have asked for the Report as there are a number of issues to look into, so that we should know why this one is purely selected to be destroyed, while the previously 40 containers were decided to be moved into conversion,” he said.

The MP said that their job is not to punish the investors that are doing business, noting that it is allowed to have an auction for conversion instead of destroying, as it can save a little money for the domestic investors.

He said after the exercise, they will do a Report of the 40 containers that have disappeared and make a decision on the remaining 49 containers, stored at the container terminal.

Gakuya said the law states that once a commodity has been condemned, it should only stay for 30 days then it’s destroyed.

“Having lasted for 19 good years, our investigation is to know who was sleeping on his job and why this has taken too long. There are matters that we can consider if there is any case in court, but any other laxity that we will find, must be punished,” he said.

MP Marianne Keitany, said that there is need to ensure that if a product has been condemned then the process goes through to its final conclusion, so that the product doesn’t go back to the table of the common people.

She said agencies need to be put to task and ensure they do their work and are effective for the tax payers, to enjoy quality services.

“We are doing our oversight role as parliament and we will come back at the time when the actual destruction is happening, to make sure that the containers that we have inspected are actually destroyed,” she said.

She added that the sessions they had with Multi-agency turned to blame games between themselves thus advising that there is a need to put punitive measures when government officers contravene the law.

“This is a matter that the Committee will take-up to make sure that where there is laxity, the person responsible is called to account,” she said.

The sugar was imported from Switzerland, Mauritius and Brazil.

By Chari Suche

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