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Citizen Weekly

Monday, 16 February 2015

Port KRA man pain to importers

The commissioner general of the Kenya Revenue Authority John Njiraini has been petitioned by importers and other business personalities in the country to tame and transfer an errand investigations and enforcement officer at the Mombasa KRA longroom for allegedly creating a parallel personal tax collection unit through deceit and bribery.
The business community who spoke to Weekly Citizen in Mombasa said the officer had frustrated almost every importer in the country by imposing additional tax levies payable to him directly in cash as kickbacks before one can have his goods released from the port or freight stations in Mombasa.
The importers lamented that even after declaring their goods to the taxman and paying the appropriate duty as stipulated by law and other levies required by KRA, the officer withholds the release of their goods until the importers part with as much as Sh300,000 per container, money that is never receipted and which is said to be paid to him in cash at secret locations to avoid any dragnet.
The importers whose hue and cry over the officer have always fallen on deaf ears of his immediate bosses including a Mr Kaguru, who is incharge Kilindini and who is said to have lost money to KRA, most probably billions to this officer for the one year he has been in the office since taking over from a one Walufu.
The officer, who has completely run amok in the way he demands for bribes with impunity as if it was his right, is said to be protected by his I and E boss at Times Towers who is his tribesman and who has always protected the officer whenever a complaint against him is raised by the business fraternity.
The frustrated importers issued a notice to commissioner general to  remove him from the office for lack of integrity and abuse of a public office, or risk a boycott to have goods cleared from the port of Mombasa until action against the officer is taken.
The businessmen hinted that due to the ongoing changes in KRA, officers in Mombasa have developed a tendency to grab as much as they can by using their offices since they are not sure when the impending changes that will ultimately affect them will be effected.
Out of what they make at the port, the businessmen said the officers were now investing and putting up mansions in Mombasa and Nairobi, where each officer will want to retire, should things go haywire in the long run or should they be caught in their acts and fired unceremoniously.
Many of these officers are said to look simple and drive cheap cars every day to camouflage themselves while at work but in their homes they have expensive SUVs lining their parking lots.
“Imagine an officer collecting Sh300,000 per container before it is released each day at the port. How much does this officer collect per month?” queried an irritated businessman.
In a nutshell, the officer is earning a lot more than his boss, the commissioner general and the commissioner customs services salaries put together, they said.
The officer is said to have frustrated foreign investors mostly of Malaysian origin whose goods have been put under customs warehouse for failing to part with a bribe to have their goods released.
The Malaysians investors are said to have lost their goods which have so far accumulated billions in demurrages to the extent that the goods are now to be auctioned by the authority. The confiscated goods include bales of assorted clothe materials, electronics, motor vehicle spare parts, assorted food stuff, tyres, spirits, leather goods among others.
The importers have laid blame on the lapse at the authority to the clipping of the wings of the powers once held by one commissioner Memo, who has since been reduced to head the KRA College in Mombasa.