Police nab relief food being repackaged for sale in a Thika estate.


Police Thika yesterday unearthed a racket where emergency food relief said to be from Daadab refugee camp in Garissa County was being repackaged for sale.

Thousands of bags containing relief food packaged in World Food Programme (WFP) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) were found when the police raided the store in Ngoingwa estate.

Workers at the store were busy packaging the rice in to new bags some of which had been branded ‘Tana River County Government Relief Food'.

Police said they acted after getting a tip-off from the public that some rice meant for relief food was allegedly being repackaged for sale at the store.

The rice was being repackages in 50kg bags.

However, the owner of the store where the relief food was found refuted claims that the rice had been stolen from Daadab refugee camp.

He said he had bought the rice from some businessman in Garissa town who had in return bought it from the refugees.

And even though bags containing the rice were clearly written it was not meant for sale or exchange,the owner said he had all the documents needed to transport the food from Garissa to Nairobi.

Among the documents is a letter written by Officer Commanding Station Garissa Police Station informing the police along the Garissa-Nairobi highway to allow the trucks carrying the food pass as they had the permission to transport it.

He said that was normal adding they have been buying the relief food after the refugees sell them.

“It happens all the time. The refugees do not normally want to eat the relief food that they are given. 
The sell it and buy other food stuff that they want using the money that they get,” said the trader.

On the rice being packaged to Tana River County Government branded bags, the businessman said he was fulfilling the wish of the county that he packages the rice in such bags.

He said he had been contracted by another person who had won a tender to supply food to thousands of residents in Tana River County who were recently displaced by floods.

 He said he had bought more than 2,000 bags of the relief aid rice from Garissa

He said he was approached by a man who had got a tender from Tana River County Government to supply rice and beans for the flood victims who were displaced recently.

“I have already supplied 4,000 bags of  rice and remaining with a deficit of 6,000 bags which i am in the process of supplying,” he said.

Tana River County Director of Communications Steve Juma confirmed they had issued a tender to be supplied with rice for the flood victims.

Mr Juma however added that they did not know the source of the rice saying they gave out the tender after the businessman competitively won the bid.

“The police should be left to do their job in probing the matter. However, if the trader will be found to be engaging in illegal business, we will blacklist him from engaging with us,” said Mr Juma.

It was not clear if the rice impounded was that which was in July donated by South Korea to help more than 1.5 million refugees.

Sources however claimed that the rice which had come from Daadab refugee camp was part of the relief food donate by Korea.

 In July, South Korea donated 33,000 metric tons of rice to Kenya to help provide food assistance to more than 1.5 million people.

The donation, received by World Food Programme (WFP) was earmarked to be allocated to refugees living in Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda.

South Korea Prime Minister Lee Nak- yon handed over part of the consignment to WFP’s representatives at a warehouse in Nairob during his maiden trip to the country last July.

"The rice provided by the Government of the Republic of Korea may not be enough to solve the entire hunger issue, but I hope that it can help to ease refugee hunger," Lee said. 

WFP said this was the first-ever rice donation received from Korea adding that it will be of great help to 400,000 refugees living in Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps.

It is projected to sustain the food needs at the various camps for at least four months starting August.
Several people including the owner of the store were arrested and taken to Thika Police Station for questioning.

Kiambu County Police Commander Adiel Nyange said a multi-agency team was in the process of carrying out investigation to ascertain the source of relief food.

Nyange said among the agencies which will be involved in the probe will be Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), WFP and USAID.

He added those arrested were also helping the police with investigations in to the matter.


(Source Standard newspaper)

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