The Kenyan government has taken action by suspending 27 officials from various institutions following their involvement in the release of 1,000 tonnes of expired sugar in 2018 that was meant to be destroyed.
These officials, hailing from ministries including the National Treasury and Investments and Trade, are currently under investigation for their roles in allowing the unsafe sugar to enter the market.
The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) had declared the 20,000 bags of sugar unfit for human consumption and had ordered it to be converted into industrial ethanol. However, the sugar was released for sale instead. The suspensions aim to ensure a thorough investigation into the incident.
Felix Koskei, the head of public service, stated, “The industrial ethanol conversion was supposed to be carried out under the joint supervision of Kebs and Nema within a multiagency framework. It has been discovered that the consignment was irregularly diverted and released in violation of procedures. Furthermore, the conditions regarding the competitive selection of the distiller were violated, and the required taxes were not paid.”
Officials from Kebs, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), National Police Service, Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), and Port Health Services have all been suspended.
Additionally, officials from the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA), the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis), the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) have also faced suspensions.
According to a report by “The Star, Kenya,” during questioning, the accused individuals claimed they were directed to release the sugar and transport it to Thika through the SGR (Standard Gauge Railway) for repurposing.
The Government Chemist analyzed over 14,000 bags of seized sugar and discovered the presence of mercury, copper, mold, and yeast.
Despite the bags being labeled “not safe for human consumption,” unscrupulous sellers repackaged and sold the sugar in 1kg and 2kg packages, pretending it was from local brands such as Kabras, Mumias Sugar, West Sugar, and Kilimo Kenya.
Over 1,417 bags weighing 50 kilograms each were found at Beder Stores in Eastleigh and Paleah Stores on the Ruiru bypass.
Meanwhile, Kenyans are facing a significant increase in sugar prices due to scarcity, exacerbating the situation.