By Our Reporter
The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Customs team has seized smuggled cigarettes concealed as charcoal.
In an intelligence-led operation last evening, 27th September 2022, the team busted the racket in Koboko on a porous route known as Busia in Koboko.
A truck, registration number UBA 408U was intercepted, impounded and driver, Patrick Kachope, arrested.
During interrogation, Kachope, said he was on his way to Kampala to drop the goods at the KK terminal in Arua Park. He had also been promised payment of UGX 2,500,000 once this task was executed.
The truck was later driven to the Oraba station and upon first verification, 80 bags of charcoal were discovered stacked at the door as a way of concealing the cigarettes.
The second undertaking of verification revealed: 240 Bags of 125 Bombers of super match cigarettes made in Uganda and marked for export totaling to 600 cartons of 50 Bombers and 4 Bags containing a total of 10 cartons of Oris cigarettes.
According to Philip Ofubo, the URA customs officer, the country lost UGX 700 million of revenue. And since cigarettes are contrabands, they will be destroyed to rid the market of other prohibited products like; cosmetics, used computers, used fridges and polythene bags among others.
Burning the illicit cigarettes ensures visibility in the fight against such illegal activities and ensures the products cannot return to market. It also acts as a deterrent measure to perpetrators to discourage them from engaging in such illegal trade due to the high risk and losses incurred.
Julius Nkwasire, the Assistant Commissioner Enforcement urged the public to hire credible persons especially clearing agents.
“If you have a truck, be sure of the driver you are recruiting and guide him. Keep checking them and ensure they offload goods within the customs controlled area,” Nkwasire warned.
He added that failure to do so would attract penalties and the affected trucks would be forfeited to government.
For now, URA has continued to intensify intelligence guided operations leveraging on the use of Non-Intrusive Inspection technology at the border points and field intelligence enforcement operations. URA is also intensifying tax education awareness, especially on the dangers of smuggling to the individual, the community and the economy.