Government agencies are working to stem the smuggling and smuggling flow on the porous Kenya-Tanzania border in the coastal region.
This follows reports that trafficking of these goods from Tanzania continues through illegal routes so that smugglers can evade taxes.
Regional Coast Commissioner John Elungata has ordered security agencies to be tough on smugglers.
“We need a stricter approach to trafficking and seizing all contraband goods at border points to send a signal that we are on high alert,” he said.
He was speaking in Lunga Lunga, Kwale County, where he chaired a meeting on tackling contraband.
Elungata urged security officials at the Shimoni and Vanga border points to help stem the flow of illegal goods.
He also said the trade in illicit goods and substandard counterfeit goods harms local manufacturers. Trade also robs the government of millions of shillings in tax revenue.
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Southern Region Coordinator Joseph Tanui said smugglers use unofficial boats, motorcycles and routes to bring goods into Kenya.
“We will penetrate the contraband cartels by engaging law enforcement and intelligence to ensure that we have confiscated the contraband goods,” he said.
KRA also plans to educate border communities on taxation.
The government, Tanui said, has lost millions of shillings due to widespread tax evasion by unscrupulous traders.
“Smuggling goods benefits a few people, but in the long run causes hardship for all citizens. It is important that businessmen only engage in lawful businesses, ”he said.
Data from the National Crime Research Center shows that in 2020, sugar accounted for almost half of the goods smuggled across Kenya’s porous borders, accounting for 48% of all incidents, with 789 cases reported in 2019.
Other popular products smuggled into Kenya include illicit alcohol and beers (28%), illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin (25.2%), grains (23%), clothing , shoes and handbags (12.8%), charcoal / charcoal (12 percent), and wheat and corn flour (11.3 percent).
Sugar is smuggled mainly through eight counties – Garissa, Kajiado, Narok, Migori, Mandera, Kwale, Trans Nzoia and Busia.
But Mr Tanui said the KRA was taking strong action to tackle contraband cartels while increasing revenues from legal trade.