Overzealous miraa traders are staring at losses estimated to be close to Sh5 million after the Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) warned that the herb remains illegal in the country.
Excited by the latest restoration of diplomatic relations between Kenya and Somalia, the traders had ordered about 12 tonnes of miraa destined for Somalia via Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on Sunday night.
But SCAA Director-General Ahmed Hassan, in a letter addressed to cargo operators on Sunday, said the Federal Government of Somalia’s policy on transportation of miraa to the country’s airports had not changed.
“Transporting miraa without clearance from SCAA shall be considered unlawful and a violation of the Somali airspace…Operators are advised against transporting miraa to Somalia until further notice,” the letter reads.
However, according to Mr James Mithika, a politician from Igembe Central and who has been following the developments, farmers who had supplied the miraa are safe as they had been paid upfront.
“It is expected that the exporters had cleared with the Somali Civil Aviation Authority. The supply delivered by our farmers and local traders has been fully paid. Beyond that, it is now up to the exporter,” Mr Mithika said.
But Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) spokesman Kimathi Munjuri said the miraa cargo was still lying at JKIA by Monday morning.
“We would wish to see the cargo being transported but unfortunately the miraa is still at JKIA. I don’t see the chance of being allowed after SCAA stated its position yesterday. We are on the lookout for any change of status in the next couple of hours,” Mr Munjuri said.
The Nyamita spokesman accused a section of residents and traders of acting on propaganda to resume trade.
Sources within the miraa trade networks said the traders are now considering using alternative routes to have the khat delivered to Somalia.
Nyamita now wants the government to speed talks with Somalia to reopen the key market which they lost a year ago.