The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on Wednesday, May 30, arrested suspects accused of stealing eight trucks loaded with 4,520 bags of subsidised fertiliser, procured by President William Ruto's government.
In a statement, DCI alleged that the scheme was orchestrated by eight individuals under the mastermind of a person posing as a company owner. According to DCI, the subsidised fertiliser was set to benefit farmers in line with President William Ruto's directive.
The Kenya National Trading Company logistics had contracted Yellow Arrow Express Limited to deliver 281 tonnes, equivalent to 5,620 bags, to various destinations. Each bag weighed 50 kilograms.
However, an unidentified person allegedly tricked the drivers by posing as an agent of a company in charge of the transportation of the fertiliser. The drivers claimed that they were called on phone and given fresh orders on the delivery location.
The theft allegedly occurred between Tuesday, April 18, to Thursday, April 27.
"The suspects are believed to have taken advantage of the ongoing efforts by the Government to help farmers access the commodity at a reduced cost and diverted the commodity to an unknown destination, prompting the swift action by the detectives. The disappearance of the fertiliser was first reported at Mikindani Police Station by an officer (from an aggrieved company) based in Mombasa.
"But according to the driver of the truck ferrying the 560 bags of CAN fertilizer, he received a call from an unidentified caller posing as a (legitimate agent), who instructed him to stop at a shopping centre 25 kilometres away from Lessos. The consignment was offloaded and loaded into two waiting trucks after stamping the delivery instruction... before the lorries drove off to an unknown destination," read a statement by DCI
The disappearance of subsidised fertiliser was detected on Saturday, April 29, when one of the approved managers was informed that a consignment of 560 bags, which had been dispatched on April 27 destined for the National Cereals and Produce Board in Lessos, Nandi County, had not been delivered.
Immediately, investigations to track the missing 4,520 bags was launched while the eight suspects accused of orchestrating the scheme were arraigned at the Milimani Law Courts on Tuesday, May 30.
They pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit a felony contrary to Section 393 of the Penal Code and stealing goods in transit contrary to Section 297(c) of the Penal Code.
"Eight other suspects are on the run and detectives are following crucial leads that may lead to their arrest," the statement added.
Earlier, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi had warned traders selling subsidised fertiliser promising to deal with those involved in the unscrupulous business.
Speaking at Kapenguria National Cereals and Produce Board NCPB depot, the CS insisted that a crackdown targeting businesses repackaging and selling the product.
"Such cartels are criminals like the bandits we are dealing with in Kerio Valley. It is not acceptable to overcharge farmers when the government is cushioning them to help boost food security by lowering the cost of production," reiterated Linturi.
President Ruto's administration earlier promised that the government would supply six million bags of fertiliser at a subsidised price of Ksh3,500 per bag.
This was after he allocated Ksh3.6 billion towards the programme.
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