26 February 2013

Cameroon: Investigations Begin on Toxic Rice Importation

Some importers and warehouse staff have come in the spotlight of security investigations following a recent discovery of 7,000 metric tons of toxic rice. The rice of the brand, Soleil which is said to have left the Yangon Sea Port in Singapore on December 3, 2012 on board Sky Star ship, arrived Douala on February 9, 2013.

It was at its arrival at the Douala seaport that staff of the Douala-based civil society association, "Organisation of Human Rights and Citizens Protection" raised the alert, having been informed by one of its Singaporean collaborators about the poor quality of the rice. Despite a forewarning note by phytosanitary inspectors and the administration, a certain warehouse company now being charged with complicity flawed the instructions, went ahead to unload and stock 130, 000 bags of the toxic rice. 13,000 bags of the rice indicating that it was produced and bagged in November 2012 and due to expire in November 2015 are still on board the ship.

Seaport gendarmerie beside the warehouse company is also charging the importing company for illegal importation and violating regulations governing the sector. Meanwhile, the association pursued laboratory tests indicating that the controversial foodstuff bears mould fungus and other undeclared toxic elements.

The problem with the rice, according to the civil society association, is that it is dangerous to health and unfit for consumption. Together with the administration it is denouncing the practice and is bring to book all involved in the shady deal. In one of the petition addressed to the authorities concerned, the association demands that the ship be impounded until a clear legal decision is arrived at.

Already two inspection report forms of cargo ships anchoring Douala seaport issued by two phytosanitary inspection offices give contrasting information. The first claims the rice is of good quality and fit for consumption while the other states clearly that after examination, the rice cannot be advised for consumption because it carries traces of toxicity and dangerous microscopic plants to fungus.

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