Somalia rubbishes allegations of charcoal smuggling by KDF

Somalia rubbishes allegations of charcoal smuggling by KDF
KDF soldiers in North Eastern File Photo

Jubaland President Ahmed Mohamed has dismissed a report implicating his government and Kenya Defence Forces in the smuggling of charcoal and sugar in Somalia.

Speaking at a Nairobi hotel, President Mohamed said the report by Journalists for Justice was not factual.

This comes just a day after a report was released by the Journalists for Justice Organization linking the Kenya Defence Forces troops in Somalia to a charcoal and sugar smuggling racket into Kenya from Somalia.

In the report, KDF is said to have been allegedly collecting levies at the port of Kismayo charging it on sugar being illicitly exported into Kenya.

The report further indicates that at least 150 million kilograms of sugar are smuggled into the country every year where the KDF together with the Jubaland forces charge a levy of 2 dollars a bag thus collecting annual revenue of 1.3 billion shillings.

The report also showed that the Al Shabaab is claimed to charge 105,000 shillings per truck that leaves Kismayo port totaling to 1.22 billion shillings almost equal amount to what KDF gets.

The sugar network the report says links Kismayo to the country through Dadaab and Garissa.

According to the report KDF, Jubaland administration and police in Dadaab charge 60,000 shillings per truck of 14 tonnes of sugar at each stage to allow the cheap un-customed sugar into the country. As such each of the three collects close to 700 million shillings a year from the sugar sale.

The report further indicates that although the charcoal business is not as booming as it was before Kenyan troops captured Kismayo, the business is, however, still thriving.

The report estimates that the charcoal business yields about 24 million dollars a year an equivalent of 2.4 billion shillings.

Charcoal had been the mainstay of Al Shabaab finances, a network that was weakened by KDF’s incursion into Somalia.

The report alleges those involved include: a high ranking military official who heads the smuggling network, commanders of KDF forces within AMISOM, key figures in the ministries of defence, interior and statehouse.

The report further alleges “the network enjoys the protection and tacit cooperation of leaders at the highest echelons of the executive and the National Assembly”.

Military spokesman Col. David Obonyo has since described the allegations by the report as ridiculous, saying Kenyans soldiers have always acted professionally in the fight against Al Shabaab militants.

Obonyo further claimed KDF would never engage in any activity that potentially strengthens Al Shabaab and which go against its mission and that of the African Union troops in Somalia.

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Story By Wangui Ngechu
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