Tuesday November 24, 2020
A miraa farmer Ms Jennifer Kathure picks some leaves in her farm in Laare. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Miraa traders in Kenya and Somalia have gone back to the drawing board after Mogadishu intensified its crackdown on Kenyan khat, hurting the Meru economy.
This comes after 14 days within which the government was expected to facilitate reopening of the Somalia Miraa market, lapsed.
Two weeks ago, Meru governor Kiraitu Murungi and Igembe North MP Maore Maoka led a delegation of traders and elected leaders in a meeting with Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i who promised to fast-track the resolution of the diplomatic tiff.But according to Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) chairman Kimathi Munjuri, the situation has worsened in the last one week with Miraa being confiscated and dumped into the sea.
Five boats delivering miraa through Indian Ocean were confiscated and the miraa thrown away last week. The police are forcing traders to deal with Ethiopian khat only, Mr Munjuri said.
“We have lost more than 17 tonnes of miraa to the crackdown targeting our sea distribution lines. Several bags were burnt by Somali police last week. Business has deteriorated in the last one week," Mr Munjuri said.
The Nyamita chairman said the hostility has heightened despite foreign affairs officials from Kenya and Somalia entering an agreement last week.
"We are aware that Kenya agreed to allow various produce from Somalia including meat and milk while Kenya will export several products. But the agreement is yet to be ratified because it is yet to reach President Farmajo," he said.
Mr Munjuri said Somali-based miraa traders had reported that a woman was shot dead for insisting on selling Kenyan miraa.
He said the situation has been complicated as most of the diplomatic issues President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somalia counterpart agreed on last year were yet to be fulfilled.
He said the traders now want a political solution to the stalemate.
"We are asking the governor and Mr Maoka to engage the president again to resolve this stalemate. These differences are not good for miraa business," the Nyamita chairman said.
The traders met in Eastleigh on Thursday to review progress in the bilateral engagements.
Last month, Somalia allowed import of Ethiopian khat, effectively locking out Kenyan traders.