The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) intercepted an interstate bus registration number UBM 743T belonging to Gateway Company at the URA Central Bus Terminal (CBT) with 1125 kg of concealed assorted garments and food.
According to Arthur Musinguzi, the supervisor of the satellite stations, they received genuine intelligence concerning a hidden compartment in the vehicle.
Musinguzi stated that in accordance with operational procedure, when interstate buses arrive at the station, the conductor or driver hands the cargo manifest, which includes information about the cargo loaded from the country of origin, to the duty customs officers, who then verify the delivered documents’ authenticity and the integrity of any bus seals.
“All seals were whole, and the bus qualified to be offloaded. It was during the search that we purposefully looked for the hidden compartment, which we eventually uncovered,” noted Mr. Musinguzi.
Musinguzi identified some of the items, including 307 rolls of fabric and 203 pieces of assorted garments such as t-shirts, jackets, sweatpants, boxers, dresses, and leggings, to mention but a few.
“Other items recovered included 96 packets of biscuits, 30 pieces of food seasoning, 24 olive oil bottles, 42 pieces of primo popcorn, 5 cartons of concentrate tomato puree, 288 tins of meat tuna, 5 cartons of spaghetti, and 20 tins of dry yeast, among others,” he said.
According to Musinguzi, URA collected UGX 29 million in fines from a smuggler transporting concealed goods.
He said that in a related development, the Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) cargo scanner unearthed a hidden electric motorcycle that was disguised in a makeshift box as part of the motorcycle spare parts being imported by Fahad Senfuka.
Musinguzi highlighted the importance of utilising cutting-edge technology in customs inspections to prevent smuggling, tax evasion, and other illicit activities.
Unlike previous practice where only officers physically inspected and verified cargo, today the NII scanner eases that job and also offers a thorough x-ray look into the entirety of the trucks and cars.
In accordance with Sections 200 and 203 of the EACMMA, an importer found to be in the act of concealing goods faces up to five years in prison or a fine equal to half of the dutiable worth of the items in question.
URA urged the public to remain vigilant and uphold the established procedures that facilitate legitimate trade while deterring illegal activities.