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The impounded smuggled pens. Photo via The Observer


Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) field services team has arrested a man identified as Davis Bakashabaruhanga who was allegedly found smuggling 200 high-end ink pens worth Shs 300 million. masquerader   

Bakashabaruhanga, who donned full military attire was reportedly driving a truck registration number, UAE 050F accompanied by a minivan registration number UAZ 637N, along the Mukono-Kayunga road. Both vehicles were full of merchandise. Once stopped, Bakashabaruhanga confidently flashed a Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) identity card which was later ascertained to be fake. 

According to Julius Nkwasire,  the assistant commissioner in charge of field services, the URA team immediately contacted their counterparts in the UPDF to "report a soldier caught with smuggled goods."

The army refuted Bakashabaruhanga’s credentials, prompting his arrest. Nkwasire revealed they also arrested a one Emmanuel Kwesiga who is believed to be part of the syndicated crime network. He added that investigations were still ongoing and all the culprits will be presented in courts of law. 

UPDF spokesperson, Brig Flavia Byekwaso condemned acts of abusing the military uniform, saying this is a different offence committed by Bakashabaruhanga. In her statement, she called on the public to be vigilant and report all such masqueraders who set out to tarnish the name of the UPDF.

“This is a warning to all those involved in misusing the UPDF uniform, these are matters regarding national revenue which is much needed by the government in this pandemic," Byekwaso cautioned. "We shall stand to deal with the culprits regardless of who is involved.”

Nkwasire noted that URA has enhanced customs intelligence and surveillance throughout the country to curb smuggling emphasizing that all those involved should stand warned. URA loses about Shs 985 million per day to smuggling.

In the financial year just ended, URA recovered Shs 67.73 billion from 5,823 seizures in operations, according to commissioner general John Rujoki Musinguzi. But URA officials as well as police officers manning crossing points have severally been implicated by traders for aiding the smuggling. 

URA has put in place several measures to fight the vice, obliging the ongoing installation of non-intrusive inspection cargo scanners at border points. Other measures include the electronic cargo tracking system, as well as the digital tax stamps.

According to URA, the cargo scanners have enhanced efficiency, with the customs department now able to inspect over 1,400 consignments daily at Malaba and Busia points. - URN/The Observer

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