A joint statement by Industry and Trade CS Aden Mohammed and Interior CS Fred Matiangi has elicited mixed reactions from Kenyans after they asserted their commitment to the fight against counterfeit goods.
This came barely a day after the two government officials issued contradicting statements on the state of seized substandard and contraband sugar that was reportedly laced with mercury and copper.
The two were on the spot after CS Aden Mohammed dismissed his Interior ministry counterpart’s report that the seized sugar had heavy metal amounts in it. CS Aden relied on the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) reports in dismissing Matiang’i.
KEBS had sent Kenyans into further confusion when they maintained that all sugar that passed through them was free of mercury.
In the Friday night joint statement, the two cabinet secretaries stated that; “The government’s fight to eliminate illicit trade(tax-evaded goods, counterfeits, and substandard goods) will continue as a means of protecting local manufacturers from losing revenue to goods entering the country without due process.”
While appealing to members of the public to report suspicion of counterfeits to authorities, CS Mohamed and Matiang’i agreed that the sugar that had been impounded was at least contaminated. However, they did not mention the presence of mercury and copper in the sweetener leaving Kenyans wondering whether what is being sold is safe or not.
“During the crackdown, the multi-agency teams have confiscated some sugar that was found to be contaminated as a result of poor handling and storage,” the statement reads in part, holding that the impounded goods will be destroyed in line with the law.
Kenyans are however hanging in the balance. At a time it appeared as if the action had been taken on the matter given the arrest of KEBS Managing Director Charles Ongwae and other officials, the office of Director of Public Prosecution said the arrests were not linked to the contraband sugar seizures.
The KEBS bosses will appear in court on Monday for allowing substandard fertilizer into the Kenyan market and aiding the use of fake KEBS stickers.
Here are some other reactions to the joint statement by the two cabinet secretaries: