Amid growing concerns about the safety of products sold in the country, Dagoretti South Member of Parliament John Kiarie has petitioned the House to probe goods seized by various government agencies.
In a letter to Speaker Justin Muturi, the legislator wants full disclosure on sugar, oil and fertilizer products seized by authorities over failure to meet set standards.
Notably, the sugar seized in 2018 by multi-agency teams comprising of officers from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Bureau of Standards and Public Health was found to contain mercury and other heavy metals.
Claims of mercury contamination were first made by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i when the Government launched a crackdown on contraband sugar across the country.
The MP wants the Speaker to refer the matter of the confiscation of traders’ merchandise to the Departmental Committee on Trade, Industry and Cooperatives for the Committee to conduct investigations into claims that the sugar was poisoned and report to the House in 90 days.
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“Cause undertaking of further tests on the seized goods stored in various warehouses around the country in light of the fact that initial tests by the Government Chemist revealed that some of the impounded sugar had traces of mercury and heavy metals,” the letter dated May 11, 2021 reads.
Further, Kiarie wants the Committee to look into reports of delayed-release of seized oil products for use in the manufacture of soap.
“Honourable Speaker, in July 2020, the Government through the Office of the Head of Public Service and the Principal Secretary in the State Department for Industrialization directed the Kenya Bureau of Standards to release consignments of expired edible oils belonging to one M/s. Master Freighters Ltd to M/s. Diamond Industries for use in soap manufacturing as requested by one Master Freighters Ltd. Following this order, the Kenya Revenue Authority proposed the utilization of a Multi-Agency Team to handle the release of the consignment, which has however not been undertaken yet, thereby inconveniencing various stakeholders,” said Kiarie.
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He wants the Committee to examine how the exercise of releasing all the expired edible oils to soap manufacturers was undertaken.
In the request that has been approved by the Speaker, the lawmaker further wants the committee to verify and obtain the physical inventory of all seized goods stored in all affected locations and also undertake a comparison of the actual physical inventory with the recorded stock (book value).
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He also wants the Committee to ascertain measures being implemented or pursued by the government to safely destroy the contaminated goods.
This, he says, is to avoid the possibility of access and resale of the condemned goods by unscrupulous traders.
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