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More held as sugar saga unfolds

11 May 2016
TNN
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Gatecrashers on the other hand are taking advantage of the current artificial deficit of the commodity, pretending to be security officials out to hunt down hoarders.

While in Dar es Salaam a thorough probe has been ordered on over 40 ‘missing containers’, four traders in Mwanza are held over the dirty game.

The story is different in Kilimanjaro Region where it is a blessing in disguise for conmen as the Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) has discovered that there were people posing as its agents from headquarters purporting to be members of a special operation to investigate sugar hoarding allegations in the region.

Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Paul Makonda, yesterday ordered a thorough inspection on over 40 ‘missing’ containers at PMM Estates (2001) Limited - Inland Container Depot (ICD). He issued the order following a tip his office got that the inland port had about 162 containers of sugar.

Surprisingly, only 115 containers were found during the inspection. In the same vein, Mr Makonda ordered officials at the DRTC Warehouse in Dar es Salaam owned by Mohamed Enterprises Tanzania Limited to submit documents and samples of about 22,000 sacks of industrial sugar found in the warehouse to the Tanzania Foods and Drugs Authority (TFDA) and the Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) for assurance.

“We had been tipped off that a consignment of 162 containers of sugar was placed at the inland port but upon our arrival, only 115 containers which is equivalent to more than 2000 tonnes have been discovered We have been forced to explore more after discovering that it was indicated that the sugar was produced in Brazil but the packaging had been done in Dubai,” said Mr Makonda.

The RC pointed out that when they conducted inspections at DRTC warehouse yesterday, they were informed that METL had only two places that they stored their goods which included the warehouse and an inland port at Kurasini.

“I’m informed that the sugar at PMM belonged to METL and was going to be transported to Uganda, taking into consideration that the country is among the largest producers of the commodity in the region,” noted the RC. He warned officials from the Tanzanian Revenue Authority (TRA) against colluding with dishonest businesspersons to con the government.

The Senior Customs Officer of TRA stationed at the PMM, Mr Ambrose Bahati, pointed out that the arrangement of the containers had depended on their arrival and not the nature of the goods. “This consignment was not meant for the country but due to the current sugar crisis through permits from the government it was settled that the commodity remain for use,” he noted.

On the other hand, the Port Operations Manager at METL, Mr Firoz Ebrahim, confirmed that the containers of sugar had belonged to them and that they had arrived a week ago and had been waiting for clearance procedures.

An official from METL, Mohammed Rashid, yesterday told the ‘Daily News’ that the sugar in question was on transit but due to sugar crisis that was currently facing the country,they decided to sell the commodity within the country.

He said they have permits and clearance from the Sugar Board of Tanzania and TFDA and they were not among the few greedy traders colluding to sabotage the government by hoarding the sweetener.

From Kilimanjaro Region, DEUS NGOWI reports that PCCB Bureau Chief, Mr Alex Kuhanda, said that the bogus officials have been perturbing businesspeople since President John Magufuli issued the warning against sugar hoarding countrywide.

Mr Kuhanda noted that the conmen get in touch with the traders or agents and reports had it that by yesterday they were in Siha District, claiming they had directives from higher authorities to deal with particular traders.

On course of their wicked campaign, said Mr Kuhanda, the conmen demand money between 150,000/- to 500,000/- from the traders as a cost to clear their names before President Magufuli. He urged traders in Kilimanjaro Region to report any such persons, saying nobody has been sent from PCCB Headquarters and that the bureau works in the operation along with other state organs and once the exercise is complete, the Regional Commissioner (RC) will issue a report about sugar hoarding.

From Mwanza Region, MOSES MATTHEW reports that police have apprehended a consignment of 26.5 tons of sugar as it was being offloading 1,060 bags of sugar in four small vehicles and two tricycles on Saturday.

Mwanza Regional Police Commander (RPC), Ahmed Msangi, told reporters here yesterday that the consignment was loaded in a lory with registration number T 200 BSV with trailer number T 601 DFM with early intelligence reports indicating the sugar was transported from Kilombero Sugar Factory in Morogoro Region.

According to SACP Msangi, the documents showed that the sugar belonged to Al-Neem Enterprises Limited, whose owner, Adam Michael Balenga, is a resident of Mwanza.

“We became more suspicious after discovering that the documents did not indicate the type of goods sold to Mr Balenga. So we have now launched more investigations with other state organs to establish the truth on the transaction,” said the RPC.