URA recovers 325 concealed smartphones

A man uses a smartphone in Uganda. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • According to the URA, they lose more than Shs800m to smugglers every day. 

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has recovered more than 325 smartphones concealed by travelers as they attempted to smuggle them into the country at Entebbe International Airport.

In a statement by the URA, the smartphones were recovered in their operative dubbed Operation Holy Grail which is intended to combat smuggling of phones by travelers into the country. 

“By the time Operation Holy Grail wound up, 325 assorted smartphones worth an estimated $70,000 (Shs271m) had been recovered. Offence management is underway,” the statement reads in part. 

Smuggling of smartphones and electronics affects the collection of taxes in the country. It also distorts competition in the markets giving the smugglers an edge over genuine importers. 

According to the URA, travelers conceal the devices in everything they think that authorities will not detect them. In one incident, the URA reported that a traveler concealed more than 39 mobile phones on his body thinking that he would not detected. 

“The team recovered from him 36 pieces of the latest models that Apple and Samsung have to offer. Another man came to the airport with calf muscles that ‘stood out’ so much that even the most accomplished Mr Olympia’s face would turn red with envy. The officer’s attention was drawn. From the smuggler’s ‘super ntumbwe’ (leg calf) came 39 pieces of assorted mobile phones,” the statement reads.

According to the URA, they lose more than Shs800m to smugglers every day. 

President Museveni ordered the installation of hi-tech scanners and effective tracking units at all border points to ensure that smuggling is combated. 

Financial rewards
The government also gives financial rewards to those who report to URA people cheating taxes under Section 242 of the East African Community Customs Management Act.