The Senate ad hoc committee quizzed Malaba Border Agencies over the entry of maize worth Sh8 billion that is now rotting in silos across the country.
The maize crisis ad hoc committee led by Uasin Gishu senator Margaret Kamar, on Sunday took Kebs, KRA and Kephis to task on whether proper mechanisms were put in place in allowing duty-free maize imports during the window period between April 13 and October 15 last year.
The committee, which included senators Moses Wetang’ula (vice chairman), 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 committee he checks moisture content of bags of maize arriving into the country randomly at intervals of 10 per cent. His team also carries out physical inspection for weevils, broken maize, colour and level of impurities.
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 gazzeted a window for importation of duty free maize didn’t meet the set standards.
Kamar said any maize imports into the country must meet five quality parameters – the country of origin, moisture content not exceeding 14.5 m3, must not be genetically modified, aflatoxin must be less than 10 parts per billion, must be accompanied by 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.
Wetang’ula 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 throw away price,” he said, adding that the government was now subsidising Mexican farmers with 1.3m bags in stores at the expense of Kenyan farmers.
Wetang’ula said the records they have indicate 1,800 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 truck pile ups 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.
KRA regional coordinator John Gathakwa said the authority received 12.4 tonnes of maize during the period in question through the Malaba Border.