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Vehicle heist at Customs’ warehouse

Five vehicles were stolen from the Ethiopian Customs Authority (ECA) Kality Branch a fortnight ago, reliable sources told The Reporter. The vehicles were stored in the Kality warehouse, jointly managed by the ECA and the Ministry of Revenues (MoR).

The Kality Branch Office of the ECA received the report of the crime on Sunday, May 10, 2020.

Although the valuation is being carried out, the five stolen vehicles are identified as a Land Cruiser, two Toyota Corrolas and two Rav4 Toyota Compact Crossover SUVs. The models, year of manufacturing and other specifications of the vehicles are on investigation.

According to a higher-level official from the Authority, the five vehicles were held at the warehouse for various reasons including inappropriate use of duty-free privileges, unpaid customs duties and taxation as well as delay from the side of the owners to clear the vehicles.

While a team of investigators composed of the Addis Ababa Police Commission and the Authority is on the case, The Reporter has learnt that one suspect has been arrested in relation to the incident.

Mulugeta Beyene, deputy commissioner of the ECA for law enforcement and compliance, confirmed to The Reporter that the said vehicles were stolen from the Authority’s warehouses but refrained from going into detail since the matter is still under investigation. He said that the investigation is being carried out by the Addis Ababa police commission and other concerned law enforcement bodies. The ECA expects the report to be delivered in a short time and the details regarding who committed the crime, how it happened, the value of the vehicles, as well as the legal actions against the perpetrators to be disclosed after the report.

The warehouse which is not a dry port facility is used to store vehicles and other goods imported from abroad until the properties are cleared after fulfilling the proper legal requirements. Some of the properties stored in the warehouse are held as collaterals.

Currently, there are 220 different kinds of vehicles at the warehouse and there is a well-organized guarding system in place.

According to the website of the MoR, unless exempted by law, items imported to Ethiopia are subjected to five kinds of taxes. These taxes are customs duty, excise tax, VAT, surtax and withholding tax. Taxes on imported goods are collected by the Ministry of Revenues.

The Ministry and the Authority were created during the last cabinet reshuffle of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) splitting the previous Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority into two governmental bodies.