Africa, investigative report reveals raw hides smuggling across open border between Uganda and Kenya

A thriving leather black market is allegedly operating across open border between Uganda and Kenya. The news has been reported by People Daily, a Kenyan newspaper: after carrying out an investigative report, they revealed an alleged illegal trade run by traffickers, who have been supposedly smuggling, for a long while, raw hides and skins, across the African countries above mentioned. More specifically, hides and skins coming from Uganda are reportedly smuggled into Kenya: here they undergo the tanning process and are then sent, both raw and semi-finished, to Mombasa’s harbour, to be subsequently shipped everywhere, still illegally. Apparently, competent authorities are not informed about such trade: in fact, according to Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the national Inland Revenue, every year Kenya supposedly loses 18,7 million dollars owing to tax evasion. It’s more than that though. The investigative report has brought to light some dodgy connections between smugglers and some officers of Kenya’s Revenue Authority, especially in the municipalities of Busia and Malaba, alongside other border towns. In fact, every month around seventy containers, carrying hides and skins, freely pass through the country customs: for the records, their cargo does not have any formal waybill. As reported by the local newspaper, raw hides and skins do not come only from Uganda, but also from Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as Burundi and Rwanda. While speaking to Kenyan journalists, Isaac Noor, managing director of the Leather Development Authority, pointed out that his office is not informed about this alleged illegal trade. Therefore, they are about to start a formal investigation. Just for the records, such ungoverned traffic is also confirmed, at the same time, by Robert Njoka, president of the association: while granting an interview to People Daily, he emphasized that “the problem is serious, as it has been causing a lack of raw hides and skins in tanneries”; according to his estimate, “East Africa’s community member countries are overall losing more than 30 million dollars a year owing to tax evasion”. This is one of the reasons, said Njoka, why Kenya’s and Tanzania’s tanneries have been forced to reduce their manufacturing and, subsequently, dismiss their employees.

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