Massive smuggling at KAMBIA NRA Post…vehicles, motor bikes, goods arrested

By Abu Bakarr Kargbo:

The National Revenue Authority NRA is an institution established by an Act of Parliament, with primary responsibility to mobilize and generate revenue to meet national obligation. It is prudent to note that Sierra Leone is a 60%-70% donor dependent nation. The National Revenue Authority is also divided into various Departments all working towards the same goal, which is revenue maximization for national expenditure.

One of the Departments created within the NRA is the Preventive Service and Special Division (PSSD), a Department that contributes to revenue mobilization and monitoring of customs operational areas, including the Gbalamuya post in the Kambia District. The third revenue generation outfit of Sierra Leone.

The Preventive Service and Special Division as part of its operation are to deter smuggling, clamped down on unscrupulous business people attempting to evade customs duty.

On the 13th December 2012 the PSSD of the National Revenue Authority at the Gbalamuya Customs post embarked on a robust raid in a bid to cut down leaked revenue and during the process the team of Preventive Service and Special Division personnel arrested five motor bikes carrying dutiable goods that attempted to evade customs. During the struggle to impound the motor bikes, one of the personnel was dragged by a riders and he sustained an injury on his right knee. On 15th December 2012 the PSSD personnel received intelligence about smuggling and of goods and customs evasion.

An operation was mounted and about 10:00pm, they apprehended a Guinean Nissan Sony car with Registration Number RC.7234 and a Toyota Van, Registration Number AGZ 206 carrying dutiable goods to a hideout in a village called Karenna. It is in this same village that the Sierra Leone Police had erected a checkpoint to forestall smuggling of goods and transportation of illegal weapons. Whether the checkpoint was established legally with the approval of the Inspector of Police or done illegal one could not tell.

According to Officer Commanding, OSD Supt Daboh; the checkpoint was installed to deter illegal and subversive movement of human and goods. On the date in question, the team of PSSD personnel visited the Kareneh checkpoint and by the time they arrived, the police personnel on duty had already released  two vehicles without proper security check and few minutes later, after the smuggled vehicles were released, the police spotted the PSSD vehicle from a far and immediately dropped down the rope which gave way to the smuggled vehicles to reverse instead of helping the PSSD officials arrest the vehicles.

The driver in his effort to reversed the smuggled vehicle with a very high speed but one of the vehicle AGZ 206 ran into a tree and got stocked where it was captured by the Preventive Service and Special Division personnel and subsequently taken to the Customs House where its owners have been forced to go through the normal Customs procedures. Reports, however alleged that effort by PSSD officials is mostly frustrated by the Officer-In-Charge of the Gbalamuya Post is Malcolm Wilkinson, who report  states has been creating lee- way for vehicles and business people to evade payment of Customs duty. It was further alleged that Malcolm Wilkinson is in the habit of soliciting and accepting advantage from big time smugglers in the form of car, generator, and television sets so he could look at them with blind eyes.

Whether the Acting Commissioner General, Haja Kallah Kamara sees Mr. Malcolm Wilkinson as one of her blue-eye boys  and untouchable remains a puzzle to solve by most members of staff of the institution.

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