GOVERNMENT INTENSIFIES ANTI-ILLICIT CAMPAIGN ON LAKE VICTORIA

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The government through multi-agency collaborations has intensified the fight against illicit products especially across Lake Victoria and the Kenya-Uganda border.

In a swoop last month, goods worth Kshs.15 Million were intercepted on transit to Kenya via Lake Victoria, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) revealed. Surveillance across borders is made possible by border Authorities including the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), Department of Immigration Services, National Police Service, and the Ministry of Health.

The Authorities have increased border surveillance across Lake Victoria, owing to increased smuggling of bhang, alcohol, and other illicit goods on the Lake Victoria islands. Illicit trade deprives the government of its revenue and poses unfair competition, besides jeopardizing consumers’ health and safety.

Among Islands notorious for smuggling illicit products are: Kiwa, Remba, Rusinga, Mfangano, and Ringiti Islands in Homa Bay County. Officials working under the Customs and Border Control, Marine Unit, at KRA, said that there was a rise in trade volume, across Lake Victoria, alongside illicit trade due to the revival of Kisumu port and inland waterways.

With this in mind, KRA, Kenya Coast Guard, and other border agencies are committed to working together in patrolling the Lake, to get rid of illicit trade. KRA officials said that through its Customs and Marine unit, they had facilitated trade worth Sh500 million in the Western region alone, via Kisumu Port.

In the last two years, the government has stumbled on illegal imports brought in through unconventional lake or sea routes and intercepted illicit liquor and livestock worth millions of shillings.

The Government has explored various avenues of curbing illicit trade across land and water, especially in Lake Victoria and the Western region, which is purported to be notorious for the vice. Early last year, the Ministry of Interior and Coordination transferred public servants working at three border posts in Western Kenya. The officers have moved from Busia and Malaba One-Stop Border Posts as well as the Lwakhakha border in Bungoma County.

The move was meant to disrupt the familiarity of officers with border operations in the affected areas, hence curb the smuggling of illicit goods that were alleged to be rampant in the borders. The workers were replaced by new officers and assigned to work with Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), Department of Immigration Services, National Police Service, and the ministry of Health in other border posts.

The Government is focused on ensuring that the illicit trade activities across border points and along the lakeside are brought to a complete halt, through a multi-agency team at the borders.

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