Eight held as officials seize illegal imports

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CUSTOMS officers in Dar es Salaam have intercepted dozens of illegally imported food and electronic items, arresting eight suspects in connection with the seizure carried out along the Indian Ocean coastline.

A customs officer with Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), Mr Elias Sipemba, told reporters at the Dar es Salaam Port that the authority had intensified its war against smugglers, especially on illegal ports along the Indian Ocean.

He detailed that the special operation being conducted in collaboration with Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) navy unit seized over 1000 small containers of cooking oil, tens of cookers and refrigerators shipped by four dhows from Uzi in Unguja to Bagamoyo in Coast Region.

“The two dhows, ferrying 860 oil containers, each weighing 20 litres, sugar and milk, have been seized and are now under security watch in Bagamoyo.

The two dhows carrying more than 200 small containers will be under the authority for further investigation in the city,” Mr Sipemba told reporters. The market value of the item has not been established and neither the duty paid value.

The cargo will now be checked to ascertain whether it meets import health standards and would be either auctioned or donated, Assistant Customs Officer Mr Emmanuel Chuma told the ‘Daily News.’

The cargo according to the authority, was imported from Indonesia and was impounded at Kunduchi area on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam.

“An average tax evasion has not been calculated as we’re still tallying the entire consignment. We will come up with the actual value of the contraband later,” the customs officer said. According to TRA, there has been a series of illegal imported goods with a large number being cooking oil, sugar, tomato paste and rice.

“The public has been supportive in helping authorities to nab the culprits. We urge the general public to continue supporting the initiatives,” Mr Sipemba stressed. The suspects, Ali Idd Issa and Ali Padwa Ali, have admitted shipping cargo from Unguja to the Mainland on illegal routes owing to economic hardships.

They said they have been in the business for a year now and they transport goods at least three times a week. “I have the documents regarding the procurements of these items. However, our concern is we don’t get transport permit from respective authorities if we apply,” Ali told the ‘Daily News’ at the Dar es Salaam Port yesterday.

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