The Senate Ad-hoc committee on Sunday grilled Malaba Border Agencies, KRA, and KEBS 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 13th and October 15th, 2017.
The Senate 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 senate committee that he checks the moisture content of bags of maize arriving into the country randomly at intervals of 10 percent. His team also carries physical inspection for weevils, broken maize, color and level of impurities.
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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 gazetted a window for the 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 %, must not be genetically modified, aflatoxin must be less than 10 parts per billion, must be accompanied by a 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 a throwaway 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.
KEBS has attracted the hue and cry of the nation in the recent past over imported sugar said to have mercury.