Bittersweet Sugar – All You Need to Know about the Contaminated Sugar Scandal

Bittersweet Sugar – All You Need to Know about the Contaminated Sugar Scandal

Shortly after the KEMSA KSH 3.7 billion tender scandal, Kenyans were surprised to hear about another scandal. This time it happened in the Kenya Bureau Of Standards (KEBS) where 20,000 bags of sugar each weighing 50 Kg were imported from Harare, Zimbabwe in 2018.

The consignment was, however, rejected by KEBS as it was deemed expired upon arrival in Kenya.  

Relevant officials, later on, decided that the sugar will be converted for industrial ethanol use or disposed of safely. This was to be done within a multi-agency framework, under the joint supervision of KEBS and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). The process of converting the product into ethanol can only be undertaken by four agencies including Agro-Chemical and Food Company Limited (ACFC) and Kenya Wines Agency.

The sugar was first taken to a go-down in Makongeni, Thika where disposal orders were given on how to distribute it to the public. However, the process did not take place and the contaminated sugar found its way into the Kenyan market. 

Unfit for Human Consumption

Some of the sugar was recovered and analyzed by the Government Chemist. The sugar was found to contain traces of mould, yeast, mercury, and copper. It is believed that retailers repackaged and sold the sugar in 1 Kg and 2 Kg packs

This is despite them being marked as ‘not safe for human consumption’. They were disguised as local brands such as Kabras, Mumias Sugar, West Sugar, and Kilimo Kenya.

More than 1,417 contaminated sugar bags were found in Paleah Stores at the Ruiru bypass and Beder Stores in Eastleigh. A mixer machine was also found which former DCI boss George Kinoti stated was being used to mix genuine and harmful sugar before packaging.     

Suspended Government Officials 

Courtesy of KEBS Suspended KEBS Managing Director Bernard Njiraini
Suspended KEBS Managing Director Bernard Njiraini
Courtesy: KEBS 

Following the shocking news, President William Ruto suspended KEBS Managing Director Bernard Njiraini alongside the Director of Quality Assurance and Inspection Dr. Geoffrey Muriira. Stephen Owuor (Principal Officer), Liston Lagat (Assistant Manager (ICDN Nairobi), Hilda Keror (Manager Inspection, Mombasa Port Office), and Mr. Peter Olima Joseph the Mombasa Office Inspector went home as well. 

Officials at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) were also not spared. They include Stephen Muiruri, Carol Nyagechi, Joseph Kagure, Derrick Kago, Moses Okoth, Chacha Hondo, Mwanja Masinde, and Doris Mutembei. Their titles and stations were not provided in the statement.       

The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) saw Patrik Magut and Oscar Kai go home. In the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) Raphael Mwaka and Bernard Ngumbi were suspended. George Mithamo and Joel Kirui from the National Police Service were also not spared. 

Other officers who made the list include Stephen Cheruiyot (Anti-Counterfeit Agency)Joseph Maita Mweni (Port Health), Edwin Ruto (KPA), Isacko Bonai (Nema), Willy Koskei (EACC), and Daniel Ngugi (Kephis).

The long list of the alleged corrupt officials came in after a statement issued by Head of Public Service Felix Koskei.

Courtesy: NTV

“It has since been established that the consignment was irregularly diverted and unprocedural released. Further, the conditions relating to open and competitive enlisting of the distiller were breached and the applicable taxes were not paid. In the recognition of the unique mandate of the agencies as vanguards of public health and safety, it is manifest that some officers in the relevant agencies abdicated their responsibilities, at the risk of public harm.”

New Appointments

Esther Ngari New acting KEBS Managing Director
Esther Ngari New acting KEBS Managing Director
Courtesy: theStarBreaking

Esther Ngari has been appointed as the new KEBS Managing Director while Bernard Nguyo takes the Director of Quality Assurance and Inspection. Some new appointments include Mutuma Muthuri as Acting Manager of Inspection (Mombasa Port Office), Zachariah Lukorito for Director Standards Development and Trade, Henry Sambul as Acting Assistant Manager (Kilindini), and Peter Makan as Acting Chief Manager of Quality Assurance (Nairobi). Other appointments are still ongoing. 

The Contaminated Sugar

Courtesy: The Standard

The consignment imported by Merako Investments Limited in 2018 from Harare was brown in colour. According to the DCI, officers found the sugar missing on May 4th, 2023 where it was allegedly stored in Makongeni, Thika warehouse

Efforts are being made to re-trace the whereabouts of the whole consignment, which is highly suspected to be already in the public domain. 

This caused sugar prices in the market to increase to KSH 450 per 2 Kg packet after the duty-free import window came to a close. The duty-free sugar was gazetted by Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung’u in December 2022 for the importation of 100,000 metric tonnes. The aim was to stabilize the sugar supply and lower prices up to 31st March 2023. 

Do you believe you have already consumed the contaminated sugar? Keep it C.O.K. for more information regarding the scandal, new appointments, and whether the contaminated sugar has been traced.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!!

Spread the love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *