Kinyuru Munuhe @kinyurumunuhe
The government has ordered traders importing substandard goods to ship them back to the country of origin in 30 days failure to which they will foot the cost of destruction.
Trade Cabinet secretary Peter Munya issued the warning even as he maintained that 354,628 bags of sugar imports seized have no mercury, lead or copper as alleged.
Speaking at a press conference in Nairobi yesterday, the CS said inspection by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) revealed some of the sugar, however, failed quality test for having more moisture content, yeast and mould and polarisation.
“To date 1,717,334 bags of sugar have been seized by a multi-agency team. A total of 354, 628 bags is fit for consumption but 396, 928 bags did not meet the required standards,” said Munya.
“These failures are indicative of poor handling during storage. The samples were also tested for mercury, arsenic, lead and copper. Kebs did not detect any non-conformity with regard to these heavy metals in any of the samples tested so far.”
However, Munya said, out of the 947 imported containers of industrial sugar, the white refined type, 522 containers were proved to be compliant while an additional 425 containers are undergoing tests.
The CS said among other measures to curb counterfeits trade, all Kebs officers will be vetted as well as restructuring of the institution by the board.
He said officers found culpable of abetting the vice risk prosecution and summary dismissal, saying Kenya would not be reduced to dumping ground of substandard goods.
The government will also review contracts with companies mandated to ensure pre-inspection conformity checks of products from countries of origin for failing the threshold competence levels.
Also, all imported products will bear Unique Consignment Reference (UCR) numbers to build confidence of imported products to consumers.
Apart from sugar, Munya said 484 out of 763 containers of edible oils imported is unfit for human consumption. The quality of Vitamin A ingredient in the oils has been rejected. Tests are ongoing for some 118 containers.
And 361 containers of fertiliser have been declared poisonous out of the 1,125 imported. The 170 containers cleared have since been released to the owners. Another 594 are undergoing inspection.
The multi-agency team also seized 188 bags of bad rice in Nairobi and another 200 25kg bags of rice in Mombasa being repackaged into news bags with extended expiry date.
Meanwhile, Deputy Head of Civil Service Wanyama Musiambo, who is leading the multi-agency team crackdown on contraband goods, said the operation has been intensified across the country.
He warned traders and importers that the government would not entertain dirty business practices and those found contravening the law would be dealt with firmly.
Musiambo revealed that on Tuesday, police in Wajir impounded three lorries carrying 36 tonnes of suspected contraband sugar from Somalia.
The sugar is undergoing inspection at Wajir Police Station.
On the same day, police intercepted 69 cartons of suspected contraband cigarettes worth Sh51,825,000 from Sudan through Nadapal, at Lokichogio concealed in soft drinks containers.