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January 24, 2019

Miraa traders stage protests against UK ban as PM May jets in for talks with Uhuru

NYAMITA chairman Kimathi Munjuri yesterday
NYAMITA chairman Kimathi Munjuri yesterday

Miraa traders and farmers yesterday protested against the UK’s decision to ban their cash crop on health grounds.

They marched on Uhuru Highway and later converged at the Freedom Corner in Uhuru Park, Nairobi.

Nyambene Miraa Traders Association chairman Kimathi Munjuri said the ban was enforced “without proper research on the its effect on health”.

He said they expected the visit by UK PM Theresa May would turn their fortunes around.

"We want the UK PM to review the ban. She relied on cooked surveys and research, or other reasons against expert opinion. Our request to the Trade ministry to be included in the discussions has never been answered," Munjuri said.

PM May arrived yesterday for talks with the Kenyan government. The country seeks to cement its position as a crucial trade partner as it prepares to leave the EU next year.

The traders demanded the government considers the miraa ban during talks with the UK leader. Miraa was not on the agenda.

The UK had been a key market for miraa before it classified it as a Class C drug. It banned it in June 2014 to “protect communities from health and social harm associated with khat and ensure it doesn’t become a hub for international smuggling”.

The traders said their grievances have been ignored despite pleas.

"The only action we heard was when former High Commissioner Christian Turner launched a study on what could be done. The results have not been released and the UK has not initiated any project in farming areas. We urge [PM May] to expedite the plan to help farmers," Munjuri said.

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