The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has written to Madagascar in an ongoing investigation into a haul of contraband Rose Wood valued at over a half a billion shillings, that was seized at the port of Mombasa early this week, the authority said on Wednesday.
KRA officials impounded 34 containers of Rose Wood, a precious hard wood used in the manufacture of high-end furniture, perfume and oil, and whose logging was outlawed worldwide to protect the rare tree species.
The containers carrying 640 tonnes of the wood were seized after KRA received an alert from the regional intelligence liaison office, Fatma Yusuf, an assistant commissioner at KRA, told Baraka FM.
“We monitored the ship from Madagascar, but along the way, it was re routed to Zanzibar and the cargo loaded on another ship. However this ship eventually docked at the port in Mombasa where we verified that it was carrying 34 containers with 640 tonnes of the rose wood,” Fatma said, adding that each container was valued at $200,000 (kshs.17.4 million).
“Documents related to the cargo indicated that it was destined for Hong Kong in China.”
A joint inter agency operation comprising KRA, KPA, KWS and Kenya police officers was deployed to ensure total protection of the containers being held at the port police station, Fatma said.
She said no arrests had been made so far, but investigations were in top gear and involved writing to the government of Madagascar to establish the agencies involved in importation and exportation of cargo, and possible disposal mechanisms of the consignment.
Rose Wood is mainly grown in Madagascar, and its illegal logging and exportation is a big headache for the country which is struggling to protect the rare tree species that is on the verge of extinction.
The port of Mombasa has been blamed for being a transit point for contraband goods, with ivory topping the list of illegal cargo that has been seized at the port in the recent past.