National, News

National Bureau to dump toxic maize

By William Madouk

South Sudan’s National Bureau of Standards (SSNBS) has downplayed threats by Ugandan truckers to lay down tools, citing that the final decision for South Sudan’s authority to destroy toxic maize flour.

Affected parties in the impounded maize and wheat flour, on Monday, gave South Sudan authorities a 4-day ultimatum to release the detained trucks or they stop supplying foodstuffs from Uganda.

Ugandan processors and exporters, transporters, and Truck drivers protested Juba’s intention to dump over 2400 matrix tons of maize, which is worth more than 10 billion US dollars.

They also claimed that the exercise of sampling, testing, and dissemination of confirmatory results wasn’t transparent, and none of them had seen the purported results.

Unhappy truckers also argued that the number of 27 samples claimed to have been taken isn’t representative enough to generalize results for the entire consignment of over 74 trucks under detention.

However, National Bureau of Standards’ Chief Executive Officer, Mary Gordon said South Sudan has the right to destroy the good since they are unfit for human consumption.

“When something comes to your territory, you are not happy with it, and you have proof that it is contaminated. You have the right to make a decision,” Mary said.

“So, our decision as a government is that we are going to destroy it. It is going to be dumped; this is the decision of the law of standards,” she ruled.

Ms. Mary wondered why truckers insist that the consignment be released while it is contaminated with aflatoxin, citing that even Ugandan citizens are not allowed to consume the unfit products.

“So, we said instead of referring it back for somebody to go and eat it, it has to be destroyed, and that decision stands,” she stressed.

The Bureau of Standards rubbished truckers’ claim that the results weren’t transparent, saying that they have followed a sampling procedure that is scientifically acceptable globally.

“We did not take 27 samples; we took around this sampling procedure 27 of them, so it represents the 63 consignments,” she continued. “Those representative samples are the ones taken to another country with a certified lab.”

Meanwhile Mary tells truckers who doubt, that the results are the property of South Sudan and not for distribution, adding that every nation conducts testing and takes decisions based on the outcome of the results.

“The Uganda Bureau of Standards has all the right to do testing prior to entering South Sudan; did they do it? If they did not do it, it is not our fault, and we cannot return them to do it for us, no.” she stressed.

The National Bureau chief disclosed that when asked about consignments that came without certificates, she discovered that some didn’t pass through Ugandan Bureau of standards.

“They said these are products near you that were brought to you but never came to the [Uganda] Bureau of Standards; they already confessed to us.” Mary defended their position.

The boss of the bureau said South Sudan is a sovereign country and nobody should interfere with every decision it takes to protect her citizens.

She explained that they are waiting for funds from the ministry of finance to buy dumping materials and dispatch a team to Nimule to witness the process, and as a result of such delays, drivers and trucks were let go.

“Because of the delay that happened, the government decided to let the drivers go with their trucks but leave the consignment.”

Mary said affected parties should meet the government to advise them on the way forward, and if they have paid any fees to the Revenue Authority, they should come so that the issue is addressed mutually.

Dr. Godfrey Asea, National Crops Resources Research Institute, said Uganda’s maize poses a cancer risk to consumers due to the high concentration of aflatoxin.

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