Police in Garissa, with the help of customs officials from the area, today intercepted a lorry ferrying 400 bags of contraband sugar.
The lorry was intercepted at Nuno along the Modika-Modogashe road, 50 kms from Garissa town. The bags weighing 50-kgs each were labelled ‘Brazilian brown sugar’.
According to Garissa County police commander Alfred Ongengo, the officers who were acting on intelligence, waylaid the vehicle as it approached Nuno trading centre.
“After our officers had flagged the truck to stop the driver managed to escaped and disappeared in the nearby thickets. The truck was towed to the Garissa police station,” Ongengo said.
The County Commander said police are hunting for the driver and the owner of the vehicle who are still at large. He expressed optimism that they will be arrested.
The police boss said the exact destination of the sugar was still not clear but preliminary investigation showed that it was being taken to a wholesale belonging to a prominent businessman with several stores in Garissa town.
Some rogue government officials working in collaboration with some businessmen have been accused of aiding the entry of uncustomed goods into the country.
According to a customs officer who spoke to the KNA in confidence, there is always top notch coordination between the government officials involved and those transporting the contraband goods to avoid detection or arrest from ‘uncooperative officers’.
The county police boss said that they will step up their operations to ensure that contraband goods do not find their way in the country.
“I want to forewarn all those involved in this illicit business, be they government officers or business people that their time is over. We are going to step up our operations to ensure that no more uncustomed goods get their place into our market,” he said.
In March, Police in Garissa impounded a truck loaded with contraband sugar along Disso-Garissa road.
The 360 bags of 25-kgs each believed to be from neighbouring Somalia were, according to authorities, destined for wholesales within Garissa town.
Recently North Eastern regional commissioner Mohamed Birik has warned that stern action will be taken against officers found aiding entry of contraband goods.
Birik said that the government was aware that a few rogue government officials were frustrating government’s effort to end illegal entry of contraband goods as well as aliens.
“I am issuing a warning to these government officials that stern disciplinary action will be taken against them including dismissal and being arraigned in court. This time round we are serious about it and heads will roll,” he had said.
Several leaders among them Mandera governor Ali Roba and Dadaab MP Mohamed Dahiye have persistently been calling for the re-opening of border entry points with Somalia to allow for free trade.
Roba said the only way to curb entry of contraband goods is by re-opening designated border entry points and posting relevant government departments to inspect goods and services.
By Jacob Songok