Government intensifies war against contraband goods

Migori County Commissioner Moses Lilan addressing the press in his office. PHOTO/George Omondi.

The government is mapping out areas along the shores of Lake Victoria which are used as gateways for contraband goods.

County Commissioner Moses Lilan said they have already identified beaches along the lake that are notorious for conducting illegal activities including sale of illicit alcohol and drugs.

MrLilan said a security operation is being conducted in the lake to eradicate all illegal businesses that threaten Kenyan economy and security.

Allegedly, criminals have taken advantage of the vast lake to conduct outlawed activities.

Minimal presence of security officers on the water body gives them an opportunity to sail across the border without being detected.

Besides the importation of illicit alcohol and drugs, some traders have been illegally importing items like cheap sugar therefore denying Kenyan farmers an opportunity to enjoy profit for their cane.

The products are transported on boats from either Tanzania or Uganda into Kenya before they are taken to beaches and fish landing sites in Homa Bay County which are the first points for boats that travel across the lake

Mr Lilan said security officers are using intelligence reports to identify individuals who practice illegal activities in the lake.

He said they have been put on government’s radar and they will soon be eliminated.

“Beaches are supposed to be used to conduct trade that is allowed by Kenyan laws like sale of fish and for transport. It is unfortunate that some of our beaches are now used as entry points for contraband goods that are illegally brought into the country,” MrLilan said.

Notorious areas for these practices include islands like Remba, Ringiti, Ngodhe, Mfangano, Rusinga and the mainland in Mbita.

MrLilan expressed concern that some traders have also established entertainment joints in beaches where fishermen and fish mongers consume changaa and smoke bhang, some of which find their way to other parts of the county.

“Not everyone who is at the beach is a suspect. There are those who are trying hard to report cases of illegal businesses to police,” MrLilan said

He told journalists that security officers led by Kenya Coast Guard will soon conduct an operation to eradicate all the illegal activities.

“Kenya Coast Guard has been conducting operations on the lake. Lack of a permanent base has however affected their work. They will soon set up a permanent station in Mbita Town where they will respond to and eliminate all illegal activities in the lake,” MrLilan said.

The administrator called for cooperation between Beach Management Unit (BMU) officials and security officers.

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