Mombasa governor stands firm on Miraa and Muguka regulations in the face of pressure

Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir has remained firm over his stand on regulating miraa and muguka business at the port city despite pressure from Meru and Embu leaders to protect the business.

The governor has disclosed more stringent rules even as Embu and Meru politicians led by Governor Cecily Mbarire and Senator Kathuri Murungi including farmers and businessmen continue to throng to Mombasa for the past two weeks to plead with Mr Nassir to rescind the tight regulations.

These new rules are in addition to cess charges for muguka which have been raised from Sh24,000 to Sh80,000 for more than seven tons of the stimulant ferried to Mombasa in the 2024 Finance Bill.

Mr Nassir has been concerned over abuse of the stimulants among school-going children in Mombasa.

“If I had my way I would have banned muguka. Its toxicity level is too high. Currently, we have 76 addicts admitted at Port Reitz Sub-county Mental Hospital, 45 related to muguka. We must save our children,” said Mr Nassir.

Some of the new regulations to be imposed by the county include designating special areas for the sale of miraa, banning Public Service Vehicles (PSVs), including boda boda and tuk tuk, from transporting stimulants without a license and prohibiting the sale of miraa and muguka near schools.

Drivers of the PSVs will be banned from chewing the stimulants during their shifts while carrying passengers. This, according to the governor, is to curb exposure of minors to the drug.

“We have written letters to the bus companies in the county to inform them of the regulations. If you are ferrying passengers please don’t ferry the stimulants. You must get a license to sell muguka and miraa, the shops should be 100 metres away from religious places of worship and education institutions,” said Mr Nassir.

In Mombasa, minors have been hooked by the addictive leaf, some dropping out of school due to the addiction.

The entire Mombasa leadership including Members if the County Assembly, MPs Mohammed Machele (Mvita), Badi Twalib (Jomvu), Omar Mwinyi (Changamwe), Rashid Bedzimba (Kisauni) and woman representative Zamzam Mohammed have been pushing for the regulation of the miraa and muguka saying it is affecting education standards in the county as religious leaders and education stakeholders want a complete ban.

Last week, Governors Nassir and Mbarire formed a special committee to address the growing concerns about the consumption of muguka among learners.

The committee from the two counties comprises muguka traders, and farmers and officials from the Mombasa County Government will also oversee regulation of the business.

“We are also cognisant of the moral need to protect our children from the consumption of this product which is a stimulant just like alcohol. We must ensure that it is only consumed by adults who can make reasonable and objective decisions,” ssaid Ms Mbarire.

On his part, Mr Murungi said the main bone of contention is about the cess charges which traders are pushing to be lowered to Sh60,000.

Mr Murungi said all the miraa traders are ready to comply to adhere to the county laws. However, he urged the county boss to collaborate with the traders when enacting new laws.

“This is to ensure we don’t hurt their businesses. Miraa trade has been in existence in Mombasa for more than 50 years and it has never affected anyone. But we’ve heard another plant is affecting masses in this county,” he said.

He said miraa is a plant used even in dowry negotiations in his community.

“It is a plant that is highly respected. Muguka and miraa traders should comply with the county laws. But we urge the county assembly to lower the cess charges,” he added.

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