Corrupt Kenyan customs aid shippers
15 / 07 / 2009
AN investigation has revealed that Kenya’s import industry is riddled with corruption.
Kenya’s Sunday National newspaper uncovered widespread bribery of customs officials at the little-used Eldoret International Airport who allowed a wide-range of goods to be cleared without having to pay tax. These would then be sold on Nairobi’s infamous blackmarket at Eastleigh business district.
Goods are ordered online from South East Asia by shippers for buyers who are charged purely on the weight of the items being shipped in, from about RS280-350 ($3.60-4.50) a kilogram. This can result in, for example, leather sofas that usually sell for Sh500,000 (US$6,500) being sold for as little as Rs150,000 ($2,000).
Considering how widespread the practice is, an anonymous Kenya Revenue Authority sources placed a conservative estimate of lost tax revenues at Sh5 billion ($64.7 million) a year – enough, the investigators calculated, to build and furnish 20,000 classrooms.
Eldoret airport is well renowned in Kenya for its corruption, so much so that when the National Rainbow Coalition party came to power in 2003 it declared it a “citadel of corruption”. The airport was temporarily closed after customs non-corrupt officals tried to burn the contraband and inadvertently ended up burning down parts of the airport instead.
For the full story see the latest issue of Air Cargo News out on 24 July.