Meru leaders says move by officials to destroy miraa illegal

Wednesday May 13 2020
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Speaker Joseph Kaberia addresses journalists at the Meru County Assembly on April 3, 2020. He condemned the destruction of truckloads of miraa by police at the Coast. PHOTO | DAVID MUCHUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By DAVID MUCHUI

Meru County Assembly Speaker Joseph Kaberia wants legal action taken against government officials who have been supervising the destruction of miraa at the Coast.

Addressing journalists, Mr Kaberia termed as illegal the move by a section of counties to confiscate and destroy miraa amid to the coronavirus outbreak.

Flanked by majority leader Victor Karithi and budget committee chairman Julius Mbijiwe, Mr Kaberia said the counties banning miraa trade were acting against the law.

He said there was increasing onslaught on miraa in the counties through trade redtapes such as hefty taxes and destruction of traders’ shops.

Miraa has been destroyed in Samburu, Mombasa and Kilifi counties where trade of the crop has been suspended over the coronavirus outbreak.

“The crops act recognises miraa as a cash crop that has been received financial support from the national government. A county law cannot supersede a law made by the parliament. Miraa should be respected as a cash crop,” Mr Kaberia said.

He said the governors should have consulted with governor Kiraitu before taking the drastic action arguing that thousands of Meru residents would suffer from the move.

The speaker further said the court order obtained by Mandera County government was inconsistent with the law.

Mr Karithi faulted administrators and police officers for supervising the destruction of khat at the coast.

“We are disgusted at the manner in which government officers are handling miraa in some counties. We will not take this lying down. We would like to know the connection between Covid-19 and miraa,” Mr Karithi said.

Meru Senator Mithika Linturi, Igembe North MP Maore Maoka, John Paul Mwirigi (Igembe South), former Ntonyiri MP Joseph Muturia and Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) chairman Kimathi Munjuri among others have also faulted the silence of the national government on the matter.

“What shocks us is that the governors started impounding miraa without issuing any notice to traders. We have been trying to lay our hands on the official communication on the ban to no avail. All this is happening even after the Agriculture cabinet secretary directed that farm produce was exempted from the curfew restrictions,” Mr Munjuri said.

He said the association was considering moving to court to contest the directives by the counties arguing that they were acting against the law.

“We want to be told how miraa is contributing to the spread of the Coronavirus since we are adhering to all the directives by the ministry. When we inquired from Kilifi, we were told that miraa was being impounded by orders from above. We are trying to establish who is above,” he said.

Mr Maoka also maintained that miraa is a farm produce and people who transport it should not be harassed on the way.

“It is so shameful for me to associate myself and serve the government that has turned into an enemy of my people, a government that is keeping quiet when my community is being crippled economically. I challange the government to come out clearly on the plight of miraa farmers,” Mr Mwirigi said.

According to the Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) miraa worth Sh100 million has been destroyed by police officers at the Coast

About eight counties including Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Kilifi, Tharaka-Nithi, Isiolo, Samburu have suspended the sale of miraa in what they say is aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus.