• One person was injured as police lobbed tear gas to disperse the protesting traders.
• Traders said the crop is an important economic activity and the ban is hurting their livelihoods.
Traders in Mandera on Monday morning engaged police in running battles over the ban on transportation and sale of miraa.
One person was injured as police lobbed tear gas to disperse the protesting traders.
Northeastern counties have banned the sale of miraa to curb the spread of coronavirus. The ban is in effect in Garissa, Wajir and Mandera, with Bula Hawa in Somalia banning the sale of miraa in the country.
Traders said the crop is an important economic activity and the ban is hurting their livelihoods.
The demonstrators barricaded the roads leading into Mandera town by burning tyres. They also blocked the Mandera-Nairobi highway.
Miraa trader Amina Gedi urged the county government to rescind its decision, saying businesspeople were not consulted before the ban was imposed.
Amina said traders are following the government's directive on hygiene by sanitising their hands before handling the commodity.
"The government has left us struggling to make ends meet," Amina said.
Last Thursday, Mandera Governor Ali Roba said the transportation and sale of miraa had been suspended.
“Due to the unhygienic way in which miraa is handled, we are asking the relevant authorities to suspend transportation and sale of miraa to minimise the risk of transmission of the coronavirus. We appeal to the County Security Intelligence Committee to enforce the order until it is lifted," he said
In Wajir, the county is enforcing the directives issued by Governor Mohamed Abdi on Tuesday last week.
In a letter seen by the Star, Jetways Airlines has suspended the transportation of miraa to the county.
The letter, signed by county secretary Abdullahi Maalim, is addressed to the managing director and chief executive officer of Jetways Airlines.
“As you may be aware, the Wajir governor who also chairs the County Emergency Response Committee on COVID-19, on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 gave directives on the suspension of the transportation and sale of miraa,” part of the letter reads.
“This is meant to control transmission and exposure to COVID-19 which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. In this regard, you are advised to suspend the transportation of miraa to Wajir county through your airline with immediate effect and until this is lifted.”
Edited by A. Ndung'u