Miraa traders are up in arms after another plane ferrying 11 tonnes of the produce to Puntland in Somalia was turned back for allegedly violating Covid-19 restrictions.
This is the second plane to be ordered back to Kenya by Mogadishu in a month. One ferrying 13 tonnes was denied entry early July.
Nyambene Miraa Traders Association Chairman Kimathi Munjuri protested the move, saying the cargo plane had complied with all rules and regulatory frameworks.
Mr Munjuri faulted the Kenyan government for what he termed as ignoring several pleas to engage the Somali government over the miraa trade suspension.
Somalia suspended Miraa trade in March as part of measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, and the resumption of international flights on August 3 has excluded non-essential goods.
“The plane was carrying 11.3 tonnes of the highly valued Griid and Alele varieties of miraa to Puntland. It entered the Djibouti airspace by about 10am after flying over Ethiopia and was readying to land in Puntland when it was ordered back to Kenya. This is the second huge loss in one month,” Mr Munjuri said.
He said the traders lost about Sh8 million in the arborted trade deal.
Mr Munjuri added: “It is painful because all the paperwork was right legally and procedurally.” He decried an intensifying campaign by anti-khat crusaders to have miraa banned in Somalia.
The official added that there was a plot to hike miraa taxes once trade resumes in Somalia.
“We already have information that Mogadishu plans an exorbitant hike in taxes on miraa to $5 (Sh538) per kilo, which will push khat way out of the reach of most consumers. We have not been involved in any talks about this by Mogadishu,” he said.
Marlier, Mr Munjuri decried the Foreign Affairs ministry’s slow pace of addressing the trade stalemate that has denied them access to the Somaliland market.
“We have even been trying to have the Somalia border reopened to facilitate trade but nothing seems to be moving. The Trade and Agriculture ministries have been engaging their Foreign Affairs counterparts on various issues. All miraa trade issues seem to be stuck at the latter” he said.
Anti-khat crusaders have taken advantage of the four-month trade suspension to argue their case on why the Somali government should ban it for good.
Kenya has been exporting about 50 tonnes of khat to Somalia, valued at close to Sh25 million daily.
By DAVID MUCHUI
Source: Daily Nation