Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) is holding three Kenyan men who were found concealed in boxes in a truck transiting through Busia at the Uganda – Kenya border, a case the tax body described as unusual.
The human beings were detected by the scanner at the Busia Customs One Stop Border Post in a truck, Reg No KCT 230T transiting to Uganda from Kenya.
The incident occurred on June 21 at around 12:49am.
URA says that on scanning the truck, three male persons were detected in the scanner image, concealed in three wooden boxes.
All together, the truck was loaded with 109 boxes. The officer at the scanner assisted by OSBP security opened and physically examined only to discover there were human beings hidden therein.
According to a statement by Abel Kagumire, the Acting Commissioner for Customs at URA, all the three suspects are Kenyan nationals.
They have been identified as Mike Macharia Kathure, 21, Micheal Odhiambo Kayas, 50, David Owuor Owino, 41, Douglas Kariuki Mwangi, 23, David Mina Waboyi, 22, and Simon Gashei Maina who was found after fully offloading the truck, currently held at Busia OSBP Police.
The other three include a driver of the truck, a turn man and one who is suspected to have hired the concealed persons.
The six persons are currently being held at URA headquarters in Nakawa.
“They all have no travel documents apart from the driver with a temporary permit TP-AAABWZ9. The culprits will be handed over to ISO and Immigration,” the statement reads.
Kagumire told SoftPower News that the suspect face charges of illegal entry (without requisite documentation) and concealing themselves.
He says this incident is unusual and that Customs authorities have not registered a case of such a nature before.
“That is why we are concerned,” he told this news website.
Asked whether the suspects have given their explanation as to why they were concealed, Kagumire said they have not been cooperative as yet and that they are silent, except for only one who stated that he was moving to Semuto for tomatoes.
“But even if that was the case, why would you hide?” he wondered.
URA scans all consignments entering the country using Non-intrusive inspection technology.
Baggage or cargo inspection machines give a quick insight into the cargo load of a container or means of transport without the need to open and unload it.
The scanner system was officially launched in August 2018 to enhance border control, facilitate fast clearance of goods and revenue collection in line with the national development plan at the different borders of Malaba, Busia, Mutukula and Katuna.
Additional new Non-Intrusive Inspection machines have been acquired and these are to be deployed at Mutukula, Entebbe, Elegu and Central Bus Terminal.
The tax body says installation of scanners at Busia and Malaba has yielded numerous achievements in the last quarter.
Two fuel tankers aboard truck no. KBS 846G/ZE0838 and KAV 435G/ZD2269 destined to South Sudan via Elegu declared consignee as Agal Juba South Sudan, said to contain fuel amounting to 70,709 liters were intercepted on 06/06/2019.
However, the scanner detected water in both tankers instead of the said fuel earlier declared and one truck KBS 846G/ZE0838 with an empty compartment. The trucks have since been abandoned at the Customs park yard, Malaba.
URA says Shs 30.1bn worth of scanner recoveries has been made between August 2018 and May 2019, as a result of scanner detections.
The Non-intrusive Inspections (scanners), inspect an average of 1,100 consignments per day at the 3 stations of Malaba, Busia and Mutukula.
“Uganda Revenue Authority will continuously enhance inclusive capacity building for both staff and other border regulatory agencies,” Kagumire said.
“We would like to appreciate the various teams that coordinated this exercise. Our desire is to have Smart borders for seamless, trade, travel and transport though we are faced with growing complexities of increased trade volumes and terrorist threats hence the need for investment in human capital, equipment and technology”.