MPís lorry impounded with
By Alex Kiprotich
Police in Baringo have impounded an MPís lorry ferrying sandalwood
worth Sh10 million.
The lorry was impounded at Tenges on Sunday night.
A suspect, Mr Benjamin Rugut Kihara, was arrested at Salawa.
He had also been charged with ferrying the endangered plant last
Baringo OCPD Peter Njenga said police officers acting on a tip off
trailed the lorry to Tenges.
"On checking the lorries, the officers found sandalwood neatly
packed in gunny bags," he said.
Another senior police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity,
said it was unfortunate that suspects charged in courts got away
with the offence.
He said police officers in the region were frustrated in the fight
against the outlawed trade.
The officer said it was unfortunate that suspects charged in
courts were getting away with light fines which encouraged them to
go back to the same trade.
Njenga confirmed that the suspect, who was in police custody, was
released in June after paying a Sh50,000 fine by a Kabarnet court.
"The suspected politician at that time argued that he did not know
that his lorry was used for the illegal trade," he said. The lorry
was later released.
Baringo district has been a target by sandalwood traders because
the species is found in the semi-arid parts of Marigat, Loboi,
Barwessa, and Nginyang.
The sandalwood plant is used to make expensive perfumes and has
market in India and the Far East.
It grows in semi-arid parts of Baringo, East Pokot and Marigat.
Police have so far impounded sandalwood worth Sh 100 million this
Police have also been accused of colluding with politicians and
foreigners in the illegal trade.
President Kibaki outlawed trade in sandalwood in a Kenya Gazette
Notice in May 2006.
Despite the fact that it is illegal to harvest the plant,
smugglers still export it. They harvest the trees at night and
pack them before shipping them to India, South Africa, Indonesia
and Germany. In Kenya they are found in Kitui, Makueni, Taita
Taveta, Meru, Turkana, Kibwezi, Mwingi, Mbeere, Nyandarua and
Baringo among other areas.