THE Kenya Revenue Authority yesterday hinted at plans to dispose of the Sh591 million rosewood consignment seized at the Port of Mombasa last Saturday. KRA southern region senior assistant commissioner in-charge of communication Fatma Yusuf said the agency will liaise with the Madagascar government to decide its fate.
The wood was being shipped from Madagascar to Hong Kong. Addressing the press at KRA offices in Mombasa town, Yusuf said the government is a signatory of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime that fights trade on rosewood. She said KRA may destroy the 641 tonnes of wood or re-ship it back to Madagascar, depending on the recommendation of the Madagascar government and the Kenyan investigation team.
“The wood had been stuffed into 34 containers and was to be offloaded and trans-shipped through the port to Hong Kong. Rosewood is a restricted good that falls under the rare endemic tree category,” Yusuf said. Documents obtained by KRA indicate that the cargo manifest was declared as ordinary wood in 20-feet containers. A joint inter-agency team comprising customs, KPA, Kenya Police and Kenya Wildlife Service officers has been set up to probe and apprehend those behind the international syndicate. Yusuf said the vessel carrying the wood, MV Miltzow, was under international watch. It was re-routed and offloaded in Zanzibar to avoid seizure at the Port of Mombasa.
“The high-valued wood was then re-shipped on board another ship, MV Kota Hapas, and impounded after it docked at Mombasa port. Upon verification it was confirmed that it was indeed rosewood,” she said. Rosewood is prized for its ruby red colour. The wood is exported to China to supply the growing demand for hardwood furniture.