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Photo: The Senate Maize Crisis Committee after touring Uganda Revenue Authority Customs Yard on Thursday to inspect cargo clearance.

Senate grills KRA, KEBS over Sh8b rotting maize in silos

The Senate Ad-hoc committee on Sunday grilled Malaba Border Agencies for over two hours regarding the entry into the country of maize imports worth Sh8billion that is now rotting at various silos across the country.

The Maize Crisis Ad-hoc committee led by Uasin Gishu Senator Prof Margaret Kamar put KEBS, KRA and KEPHIS to task whether proper mechanisms were put in place in allowing duty free maize imports into the country during the open window period between April 13thand October 15th 2017.

The committee that also included Senators Moses Wetangula (vice chair), Christopher Langat, Petronila Lokorio, Boniface Kabaka and Mary Seneta found KEBS culpable  for allowing  maize  into the country without following the laid down laws.

Peter Kirwa who is in charge of Malaba border KEBS told the Kamar led committee that he checks moisture content of bags of maize arriving into the country randomly at intervals of 10 per cent. His team also carries physical inspection for weevils, broken maize, colour and level of impurities.

He admitted that for the last three months he has not rejected any maize imports from Uganda, a confirmation that maize that was imported during the period in question when Finance CS gazzeted a window for importation of duty free maize didn’t meet the set standards.

Prof Kamar said any maize imports into the country must  meet  five quality parameters including  the country of origin, moisture content not exceeding 14.5 m3, must not be genetically modified, aflatoxin must be less than 10 parts per billion, must be accompanied by certificate of confirmation and meets the set standards.

“ We are investigating why  stores became full before farmers  deliver their produce and why farmers have not been paid  to date for maize delivered  since September last year,’’ she said.

Wetangula said it’s ironical that Kebs was only testing moisture and releasing ‘’substandard’’ maize entering the country without receiving results from their laboratory in Nairobi.

‘’ Stores in Bungoma are full before farmers deliver their produce. This will make unscrupulous  traders exploit farmers by purchasing their produce at throw away price,’’ he said, adding that  the government was now subsidizing Mexican farmers with 1.3m bags  in stores at the expense of Kenyan farmers.

Wetangula said the records they have indicates 1800 tonnes of Maize was imported from Uganda. He told the KRA boss to avail data for other entry points of Sio Port, Port Victoria, Chebukube and Lwakhakha.

The Bungoma Senator told KRA to facilitate trade by reducing trucks pile up along the Northern Corridor through faster clearance of goods and to prevail upon the County Government to expedite the construction of a parking bay where trucks will be parked awaiting clearance.

KRA regional coordinator John Gathakwa said the Authority received 12.4 tonnes of maize during the period in question through the Malaba Border.

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