We must put an end to illicit gold trade
In any society, miscreants always try to find shortcuts to prosperity. They do this regardless of the pain their actions put victims in.
In the recent past, there have been many cases of foreigners being lured into the country to buy gold.
The dealers put up such a show that it has been difficult to rein in the illicit trade. And because of underhand dealings of a few, Kenya is now a regional leader in the smuggling of illicit gold.
It is this illicit trade that has borne dealers in fake gold. The smugglers lure unsuspecting buyers and swindle them of millions of shillings; in some cases, hundreds of millions.
A report by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime (GI-TOC), Illicit Gold Markets in East and Southern Africa, says that the increase in criminal activities in gold-rich markets has undermined the potential for this precious commodity to be a catalyst for development in the region.
The work of these phoney traders not only undermines the potential of the gold but also opens a criminal syndicate where extortion, and even killings are committed.
It is time the government got to the heart of the illegal trade and stem the trade before it brings down economies and ruins lives.
According to the report, over 250,000 people are directly engaged in the mining of the metal across in the country.
However, because of the cartels in the trade the jobs and earnings have been compromised.
And these are not just village riffraff, the report says politicians with deep pockets, senior government officials and foreign nationals have infiltrated the trade and are hurting genuine dealers.
A former ambassador is fingered in the report as a gold smuggler.
These corrupt individuals use their positions to influence issues such as licensing, land and trading rights.
The illicit trade is facilitated by rampant corruption in the area, with law enforcement officers reported to be involved in protection and extortion rackets.
With the porous borders acting as a stimulus, tighter patrols, and vigilant enforcement of the law will bring the runaway trade to an end.
It is time the government stood with genuine gold traders who pay their taxes and help fund the public agenda.
Targeted sanctions and an electronic cadaster will help fight the illegality. It is interesting that in 2015, the government launched the Kenya Mining Cadaster Administration System, but ministry officials have gone back to using the manual system which aids in illegal trade.