Following intelligence reports, the URA team in Hoima was tipped on a truck that had loaded extra neutral spirit along Kakumiro-Mubende Road. This spot is well-known for such illicit Spirits.
Since the intention of the smuggler was to move at night, the team strategized immediately awaiting the 'target'. “We waited until Sunday morning at around 3am when the target fell in our hands. The driver was asked what the smuggler was conveying and he insisted that it was local waragi,” John Lubakwidha, a customs officer in Hoima narrated.
During physical verification, it was discovered that the driver had loaded 108 drums worth 250 liters of Extra Neutral Spirit in truck Registration Number UBK 780K. The driver also had no Extended Notice of Arrival (ENA) that showed where he had gotten the goods from.
He insisted that he had been sent from Kampala to load goods and take them to Isingiro. “When asked to contact the owner of the goods, he refused to disclose. Together with the turn-boy, we asked them to drive to the station to make a statement,” Lubakwidha said.
After impounding the goods, the enforcement team in Busia handed them over to the Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices(RILO) for thorough investigations. The enforcement did not stop in Hoima. Another truck registration number UBL575A carrying 2,000 cartons of unstamped Buganda Kombucha Alcoholic drink was impounded and handed over to the Domestic Taxes enforcement team in the Fort Portal for offence management.
Abel Kagumire, the commissioner of the Customs Department, urged the public to hire credible persons especially clearing agents when transporting goods. “If you have a truck, be sure of the driver you are recruiting and guide him. Keep checking them and ensure they offload goods within the customs-controlled area,” he said.
He added that failure to do so would attract penalties and the affected trucks would be forfeited to the government. For now, URA has continued to intensify intelligence-guided operations leveraging on the use of Non-Intrusive Inspection technology at the border points and field intelligence enforcement operations. URA is also intensifying tax education awareness, especially on the dangers of smuggling to the individual, the community, and the economy.