KENYA – A 40-foot container of imported alcoholic beverages lined up for destruction in Mombasa has been found with only empty bottles, puzzling authorities on how the container was emptied within a custom bonded warehouse.
The container, which officials said is among several others whose vital documents such as manifest numbers, agents’ names, and addresses could not be traced, is among 104 lots of assorted goods lined up for destruction since they have overstayed and expired after importers failed to pay duty on time.
In a gazette notice, the authority said that the container with wines had arrived in the country on July 29, 2009.
“Only empty bottles and papers found,” the notice signed by KRA (Kenya Revenue Authority) Port Operations Chief Manager Kilindini, Lucy Ng’ang’a, stated.
During the transfer of the container to G-section Kilindini, an official statement said there were about 1,984 cartons of assorted wines.
The goods were later listed for auction by the customs department in 2010. At that time, Galatea Alimentari Ltd whose address is in Watamu, Malindi, was named as the consignee.
Other goods are tonnes of foodstuffs including wheat, rice, UHT milk, brown sugar, vegetable oil, and juices which have been stored from between 2008 to 2021 and are also part of the tonnage for destruction.
The incident unfolds just a few months after 20,000 bags of contaminated sugar that had been previously condemned allegedly found their way into the market.
“It has since been established that the consignment was irregularly diverted and unprocedural released. Further, the conditions relating to open and competitive enlisting of the distiller were breached and the applicable taxes were not paid,” Head of Public Service Felix Koskei said.
27 officials from the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), National Police Service (NPS), and Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) were suspended to pave the way for investigations. Among them was Benard Njiraini, the KEBS Managing Director.
Every year, KRA destroys tonnes of expired goods, some seized at Mombasa’s port, to relieve congestion at the various container freight stations.
In previous years, several port agents have been accused of colluding with importers to sneak out goods from the Port of Mombasa, leading to the introduction of modern scanners, which have significantly reduced such cases.