The Kenyan government has suspended 27 officials from various institutions for their involvement in the release of 1,000 tonnes of expired sugar that was supposed to be destroyed in 2018.
The officers, from ministries including the National Treasury and Investments and Trade, are being investigated for their roles in allowing the unsafe sugar to enter the market.
The Kenya Bureau of Standards had declared the 20,000 bags of sugar unfit for human consumption and ordered it to be converted into industrial ethanol, but it was instead released for sale. The suspensions aim to ensure a thorough investigation into the incident.
“The industrial ethanol conversion was to be implemented under the joint supervision of Kebs and Nema under a multiagency framework. It has since been established that the consignment was irregularly diverted and unprocedurally released.”
“Further, the conditions relating to open and competitive enlisting of the distiller were breached and the applicable taxes were not paid,” the head of public service, Felix Koskei said in a statement.
Kebs, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), National Police Service, Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), and Port Health Services have all had their officials suspended.
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) are among the other organizations.
According to a report by”The Star, Kenya”, Those accused and interrogated claimed they were directed to release the sugar and transfer it to Thika through SGR, where it would be repurposed.
The Government Chemist seized and analyzed over 14,000 bags, discovering levels of mercury, copper, mold, and yeast.
Despite the fact that the bags were labeled “not safe for human consumption,” unscrupulous sellers repackaged and marketed them in 1kg and 2kg packages.
They pretended to be local brands such as Kabras, Mumias Sugar, West Sugar, and Kilimo Kenya.
More than 1,417-50 kilogram bags were discovered in Beder Stores in Eastleigh and Paleah Stores on the Ruiru bypass.
The packaging indicated that the sugar came from Zambia and Brazil.
Meanwhile, Kenyans are facing one of the most significant increases in sugar prices in years due to scarcity.