Mandera miraa traders protest as ban imposed over virus

Thursday March 19, 2020

Locals offload miraa from a vehicle in Mandera on March 17, 2020. This was despite a ban on the trade announced earlier by Governor Ali Roba. Wajir County has imposed a similar ban over coronavirus fears. PHOTO | MANASE OTSIALO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Mandera and Wajir counties have temporarily banned the sale and transportation of miraa to prevent possible spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi made the announcement on Tuesday following a similar decision by his Mandera counterpart Ali Roba.

Mr Abdi said the decision is a precautionary measure against the spread of the coronavirus which is wreaking havoc across the globe.


Addressing journalists in Wajir town, the governor directed the county security team to ensure that the ban is enforced.


And, while announcing the ban in his county, Governor Roba said that miraa business poses a high risk in the spread of the Covid-19 and that the suspension is just one of the many measures to be implemented in Mandera.

But Mr Roba did not say what other measures his administration is planning to put in place to curb any possible spread of the coronavirus.

In Wajir, Governor Abdi said that the two countries bordering the county have already reported confirmed cases of the coronavirus, hence the need for extra preventive measures.


Miraa traders in Mandera expressed dissatisfaction with the decision by Mr Roba to suspend transportation and sale of the stimulant in the county.

Ms Rukia Ali Abdi, the chairperson of Mandera East Miraa Dealers Association, said on Tuesday that the order will lead to loss of jobs for locals.

“There are more than 500 women in the miraa business in Mandera East alone with many others in other parts of this county. That decision is unfair and the governor did not consult us before making it,” she said.

Ms Abdi said many young people make a living through selling and transporting miraa.

“We have a number of people transporting miraa from Meru region to Mandera and others doing the same to areas as far as Dholo and Bulahawa in Somalia. What other sources of income has the county government put in place before banning the sale of miraa?” she asked.


Ms Abdi wondered why the governor singled out only miraa for the ban.

“Miraa business in the only source of income for many families in Mandera and it enables us to pay school fees and meet other basic needs for our families,” she said.

Mr Yussuf Hassan Giro, a miraa dealer, said the decision to ban the business in Mandera was unrealistic and is a recipe for chaos.


“Miraa is the only thing that keeps Mandera going and the ban will cause a lot of chaos and other vices in our society. We are taking all precautionary measures against coronavirus when doing our business,” he said.

A day after Governor Roba announced the suspension of miraa business, three vehicles supplying the commodity from the larger Meru region arrived in Mandera town.

At least 6,000 kilogrammes of miraa were supplied on Tuesday with each of the three vehicles loaded with 80 bags.

The county government collects Sh10,000 from each vehicle transporting miraa on entry into Mandera and Sh1,200 from each local miraa dealer daily.