The taskforce seeks to increase dwindling customs revenue and curb threats to the economy and public health.
The special Customs taskforce, “Operation Halcomi,” set up on August 9, 2016 and launched on August 16, 2016, has carried out two fruitful operations. Following raids in the Littoral, South West and North West Regions (Zone I), several goods, including six containers, were impounded. Communication Officer, Jean-Claude Ekoube, disclosed this at a news briefing in Douala on September 30, 2016.
In the night of September 28, 2016, several products were seized in the Youpwe neighbourhood of Douala. They included wines and other drinks that were illicitly being transported in containers initially said to be containing tiles and other products. In addition to previous onshore and offshore operations, the following were seized: vehicles, over 1,000 bottles of beer, 6,500 to 500,000 telephones and accessories, 34,500 litres of fuel and over 1,000 bottles of alcohol. Others were 1,200 plasma screens and DVD players, 1,000 milk products, vegetable oils, 45 sacks of plastic, cosmetic products, several tonnes of cement, cigarettes and tobacco, 100 ICT equipment and office material. The contraband products were from Nigeria, Dubai, USA and Europe.
Furthermore, 4,500 sacks of rice and were also impounded as they were to be exported from Cameroon to Nigeria. Seizure of the latter follows the 2015 Prime Minister’s instruction restricting exports of rice from Cameroon and the importation of cement as a measure to ensure that supplies meet local demand, as well as protect local industries. While presenting the results of the first and second phases of “Operation Halcomi,” Jean-Claude Ekoube noted that illicit trade has curtailed customs revenue in recent years, threatened the national economy, affected local companies and posed threats to health.
“Maggi” from Nigeria, for example, has been proved to have high salinity than locally-made one, even though its consumption is being discouraged medically. Illicit circulation of products from Nestlé, Guinness, Société Brassicole, Sosucam, and Cimencam, has so far been arrested by the operation. According to Customs regulations, the products will be auctioned after 90 days, while some will be re-assessed. “Hence, canoes, boats, ships or vehicles found transporting contraband products will also be impounded,” Jean-Claude Ekoube warned. The taskforce is made up of 135 Customs and over 10 marine men who work in close collaboration with local companies to strengthen the fight against fraud and contraband.