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KDF and Jubbaland rake in $400m from illicit sugar in unholy alliance with Al-Shabaab, report

Storyline:National News

A joint profiteering ring lumping Kenya Defence Forces, Jubbaland Administration and Al-Shabaab collectively pocket a plunder of $400 million from sugar trade in Kismayu, a report by Nairobi based campaign group, Journalists for Justice has said.

The report notes that an estimated 150,000 tones of illicit sugar is transported to Kenya annually via Kismayu. Around 3000 tones ferried by 230 trucks of 14 tones leave Kismayo for Kenya, the report adds. Kenya Defence Forces, KDF and Jubbaland officials whose forces jointly control Kismayu port with KDF levies a tax of $2 per bag on imported sugar, netting an income of around $25,000 a week or $13 million a year, the report notes.

UN Report The report, which reveals the dirty hand business by KDF in Somalia comes barely a month after the UN Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritrea said Al-Shabaab could be racking in more from sugar than the $400,000 $80,000 cited in 2011.

And in what seems like an unholy alliance between KDF, Jubbaland officials and Al-Shabaab, the latter takes home an average of $12.2 million per year or an average $23,000 a week from taxes fixed at $1050 per truck leaving Kismayu.

This almost makes for an equal share despite Al-Shabaab being the KDF’s and Jubbaland Forces arch enemy in the war on terror. At Dhobley, the Jubaland administration collects a tax of $ 600 per truck. To cross the border, the truck owners pay the KDF network $600 per truck and then a further $600 to the police in Dadaab, says JFJ report.

Charcoal export.

This income is in addition to the export of charcoal, which, although apparently somewhat disrupted and diminished, is still going on and is still a mainstay of revenue for al-Shabaab, Jubaland and KDF. The report notes that the port taxes $3 a bag on exported charcoal, which is then split between Jubbaland, KDF and Al-Shabaab. Until recently, the export volumes were around 1 million bags a month equaling revenue of $24 million a year, JFJ says.

Al-Shabaab also taxes charcoal production before the bags reach the port and it has a stake in the market value of the cargo when it reaches its destinations in the Middle East. But the situation is almost out of hand as local and international intervention to curtail the cartel’s efforts are met with resistance and threat of non cooperation in the war on terror in the region.


JFJ says sources in the diplomatic community and the UN say Kenya’s allies in the fight against Al-Shabaab particularly the UN, US, and UK are frustrated by the fact that little can be done apart from working around the problem. The US and European forces need Kenya to access bases in Kismayo and the use of Kenyan facilities for other military training making it difficult for them to take a tough stance.

The much they can do, the report says is sponsoring Somali government efforts to interdict smugglers, withholding intelligence from KDF and pursuing al-Shabaab targets on their own or with Somali Special Forces.

Jubbaland revenue

Breaking the arrangement among the three networks-KDF, Jubbaland and Al-Shabaab is further complicated by the fact that the revenue from the port is the mainstay of the Jubbaland administration. When Kenya captured Kismayo from al-Shabaab, it inherited a stockpile of over 1 million sacks of charcoal at the port, according to the UN Monitoring Group.

The 2013 UN report acknowledged that al-Shabaab, Jubaland and KDF all have a shareholding in the port. The most recent October 2015 report, acknowledged that that arrangement was unchanged: Although the actors controlling the trade and export in Kismayo remain largely unchanged since the Group’s previous report.

KDF spokesman Col David Obonyo today told BBC  Kenyan troops were in Somalia on one mission to fight Al-Shabaab and restore peace. “How can you work together with your enemy yet kill him at the same time,” posed Obonyo. He said since KDF was under AMISOM and all questions regarding the operations and work of KDF should be directed to AMISOM which KDF draws its command.