By Spy Uganda Reporter
Ugandan salt traders at Busia border are counting losses estimated in Billions of shillings after smugglers at the busiest border allegedly managed to successfully connive with authorities along the border lines to sneak in smuggled salt from Kenya which they later sale at cheaper prices.
A number of traders this reporter interviewed on condition of anonymity claim these illegal activities are normally done at night with the connivance of border police and Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) field staff.
Now, a number of traders are calling on authorities in Kampala to institute a crackdown of the said smugglers including transferring some of the field staff of URA who are reportedly being compromised by the smugglers.
Traders warned that if this trend is not dealt with decisively, they might be forced out of business soon, but that this would have a huge bearing on the tax base and the country’s economy.
The traders, accuse the smugglers of getting salt from Kenya cheaply, dodge taxes and sale it in Uganda very cheaply. This, they say is threatening them out of business because they’re competing with smugglers who don’t pay taxes and therefore can’t compete with their prices. The market for smuggled salt has now expanded to nearby towns of Tororo, Mbale, Iganga among others. “We pay every tax imposed on us, but why can’t Gov’t also safe guard our markets so that we are able to do good business and even pay more taxes with ease?” a Busia border trader charged.
For the last one week this reporter has been investigating this story and independently established that the most smuggled salt at the border is Kay salt manufactured from Kenya, and mostly smuggled into Uganda at night.
Our investigations have also landed on a one dealer only identified as Kiduku who is said to be very connected in police and URA field staff.
Kiduku, according to sources, declares and clears like one truck at border with URA but uses the same papers to smuggle in like 3 or 4 trucks of salt. And he does this reportedly with the knowledge of some URA staff inside who handle his paper work.
Infact,he has a store at Busia border on the Ugandan side which he also fills up using bicycles through ‘panya’ routes and then displays the paper work of the officially declared consignment.
Meanwhile, last week URA inspection patrol unit intercepted one track reportedly full of smuggled salt along Tororo highway on its way to Iganga before entering the market and forced them to pay additional taxes including heavy penalities estimated in millions.
“But if they allege that we connive with these illegal smugglers, then who arrested their (smugglers) track last week along Tororo road? Do you know how much we made them to pay as penalty?” a URA staff who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not the official spokesperson of the Authority told this reporter while refuting the allegation.
This is not the first time smuggled salt is reported in Uganda to have taken route, on October 31 2015, NTV Uganda ran an exclusive story about how smuggling of salt and other goods on Busia border was becoming a lucrative business to venture in. Four years later, it seems the story was as truthful as it sounded. Watch out for more on this…