A report has implicated the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in sugar smuggling in Somalia.
The report by Journalists for Justice (JFJ), which conducted the study on the conduct of the KDF, named the Kenya military, the Jubaland administration of Ahmed Madobe and Al-Shabaab as the beneficiaries of shares in a trade worth between $200 million (Sh20.4 billion) and $400 million (Sh40.8 billion).
“The connection between Al-Shabaab and sugar smuggling came to the fore in Kenya during the group’s current mandate – this implied KDF involvement by describing how sugar enters Kenya via Kismayo,” the report said.
Previously, charcoal was considered the leading source of revenue for Al-Shabaab, but that has since declined owing to the thriving and more lucrative taxation of illicit sugar.
According to JFJ, loaders, traders and intelligence officials said an estimated 150,000 tonnes of illicit sugar is transported to Kenya via Kismayo each year, which translates to around 3,000 tonnes a week.
However, Kenya’s army has denied repeated allegations of war profiteering since invading Somalia in 2011 after a series of kidnappings of aid workers and tourists blamed on Al-Shabaab.
Reacting to the allegations, KDF spokesman Col David Obonyo rejected the claims and said the KDF cannot do business with the people they are supposed to be fighting.
“Those releasing the report can say whatever they want — they have said it many times, but KDF is not involved in (the)harcoal or sugar business.
“Those who allege to have done investigation must appreciate that (the) Somalia coastline is 3,300 kilometres long, but (the) KDF is deployed on (a) 150km stretch.
“(The) Somali authority themselves appreciate that there are so many makeshift ports that are unpoliced,” said Col Obonyo.
The numbers, JFJ says, were corroborated by journalists, traders in Dadaab and Dhobley and drivers at both locations. They alleged that hundreds of trucks cross the border at Liboi and Amuma and arrive in the Dadaab camps each month.
The trade areas are Kismayo, Dhobley, Liboi, Amuma, Dadaab and Garissa. KDF and Jubaland forces control the Kismayo port.
The JFJ report reveals that the KDF and Jubaland officials levy a tax of $2 (Sh204) per bag on imported sugar, an income of around $250,000 (Sh25.5 million) a week, or $13 million (Sh1.3 billion) a year.
Al-Shabaab taxes trucks as they leave Kismayo at the rate of $1,050 (Sh107,100) each, which is almost $12.2 million (Sh1.2 billion) a year.
At Dhobley, the Jubaland administration collects a tax of Sh60,000 per truck. To cross the border, the truck owners pay the KDF network Sh60,000 per truck and then a further Sh60,000 to the police in Dadaab.
“This income is in addition to the export of charcoal, which, although apparently somewhat disrupted and diminished, is still going on and is still a mainstay of revenue for Al-Shabaab, Jubaland and KDF,” the reports says.
With the charcoal business, export volumes were around 1 million bags a month, equalling to revenue of Sh2.4 billion a year.
JFJ claims Al-Shabaab also taxes charcoal production before the bags reach the port.
According to the report, sources within the diplomatic community and the UN who are Kenya’s allies in the fight against Al-Shabaab are “very frustrated” with the fact that the KDF network is facilitating the militant group’s profiteering from illegal charcoal and sugar smuggling in contravention of United
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SOURCE: BUSINESS DAILY