The recent spike in attacks against gemstone dealers in Kenya’s Coastal region officially has law enforcement personnel worried. The last attack, in which a gemstone dealer was hospitalized after a run in with ‘sophisticated ngeta men’, read armed attackers, is symptomatic of a larger problem quietly developing in the background of national news: illegal trade in precious stones, metals or minerals.
So far the police, in conjunction with Ministry of Mining officials have arrested up to 12 individuals involved in illegal mining of natural resources such as green
or yellow tourmaline, in quantities valued at up to KES 200,000 as well as rubies. With mining of such precious materials gaining momentum in Kenya, logisticians are not ready to watch these gemstones lying around and getting ’suntans’. We have a role to play.
The logistics of moving high value cargo such as precious stones, metals such as gold or silver and jewelry present a unique case in the industry. With commodities such as diamonds or platinum, which require mining to access, logistics as a function is essential in getting them from the mine site to the secondary location where they are processed if separate from the mine and into the hands of jewelers tasked with shaping and evaluating them for setting in jewelry.
The process of packaging these goods, selecting an optimal transportation method or route, shipping and delivering them, is supported entirely by facets of logistics, whether internal to the company doing the mining or external through firms hired to execute it.
In selecting the mode and route of transport, supply chain managers must consider several factors, key of them being security. In transporting high value cargo such as diamonds or finished jewelry containing other precious gems, road transport offers the option of armored trucks escorted by armed guards or entire convoys if necessary.
This is especially convenient for traveling short distances, e.g. a jeweler delivering to a buyer within the same city. For longer distances, specialized air travel, such as by chartering a plane is a viable option. Reduction of time spent in transit, which is often when cargo is most vulnerable to theft, is a clear advantage of freighting by air, along with additional perks such as the private nature of a chartered jet helping to control civilian access to cargo, and reducing risk.
In deciding to outsource transportation of such cargo, company policy of the logistics firm must also be considered. For some companies, goods being shipped must be careful not to hit net worth ceilings set by internal processes. Most companies will also refuse to freight goods which are considered illegal either in the country of origin, any countries within the transit stop over plan, or the final destination.
Similarly, the laws of the land must be observed.
Seeking to transport goods of great value but which are illegal in the given country is likely to prove fruitless when consulting with legitimate logistics firms, such as drugs or elephant tusks. Laws regarding taxation or additional processing charges for such cargo must also be adhered to so as to ensure smooth transit both within the country and without.
For expensive cargo containing goods for commercial purposes, it is also necessary to ensure that they meet internal national standards so as to be approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.