Miraa farmers in agony on day 3 of flights ban

Traders in Meru and Nairobi were on Thursday counting their losses for the third day after Somalia banned miraa cargo flights.

Nyambene Miraa Traders Association spokesman Kimathi Munjuri said farmers had incurred losses amounting to millions of shillings.

With the onset of the dry season, miraa prices were set to rise but traders now fear losing the booming business in Somalia, the largest export market after the 2014 United Kingdom ban.

“About 20 planes transport miraa worth $100,000 to Mogadishu daily. The losses between Monday and today will be huge,” Mr Munjuri said.

He said several tonnes of the mild stimulant had gone to waste and growers had been advised to stop harvesting until the ban is lifted.

“Only two planes have left for Somaliland, but the authorities in Mogadishu have threatened to withdraw the licences of their owners if they are found to have broken the law,” Mr Munjuri said.

There has been no official communication from the Kenya Government.

“We expected to hear from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, State House and ministries of Trade and Foreign Affairs. Their silence is baffling,” Mr Munjuri said.

He also asked Somalis, who are the largest stakeholders in the miraa trade, to make their voice heard.

“These exports are 90 per cent controlled by our Somali brothers. They should also agitate,” Mr Munjuri said.

In Meru, Kenya Miraa Farmers and Traders Association Secretary-General Julius Omolo demanded compensation for farmers and traders.

“We have a Somali Ambassador in Kenya and we wonder why he did not notify us of the ban. We had booked flights for our cargos and this is terrible loss,” he said.

Mr Silas Murungi, a trader, threatened to sue the government.

“In 2014 when miraa was banned in London, I lost more than Sh50 million. This time I have lost more than Sh1 million. Who will compensate me?” he asked.

Two ward representatives vowed to mobilise traders and farmers to boycott Deputy President William Ruto’s visit to Maua town next week.

Maua Ward MCA Duncan Kangwana said the government should recognise the government of Somaliland for the sake of the Meru people.

His nominated counterpart, Ms Margaret Ntongai, criticised the government for its silence on the matter.

“Our governor cannot supersede the President and politicians should not blame him for the ban,” she said.

On Wednesday, Somalia accused Governor Peter Munya of political interference, hence the ban. Mr Munya says he now fears for his life.

This Article was originally published in the Daily Nation

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