Traders sue Mombasa County for ‘unfair’ miraa tax laws

Wrangles over the miraa and muguka business have taken a new twist after traders sued the county government over alleged discrimination.

Merchants of the two stimulants have accused the County Government of Mombasa of singling them out for excessive and punitive taxation in a bid to drive them out of business.

Miraa levies are extremely high compared to levies for other products like motor vehicle spare parts, alcohol, tobacco and cement,” the traders claim in their petition.

They add that, on top of the Single Business Permit, a new licence exclusively for miraa traders and charged at Sh15,000, has been introduced.

In their petition filed at the High Court in Mombasa, Micheck Makara, Patrick Nkiri and Anthony Mwenda have alleged that the levies were formulated without public participation.

This, they say, has denied them an opportunity to contribute to the formulation of new levies. They argue that they were not invited to comment on the proposals contained in the Mombasa County Finance Act 2024.

According to the traders, the onslaught against the khat traders is unwarranted because it is classified as a scheduled crop under the Crops Act and is promoted by the national government, which has provided funding to boost its production.

“The respondent should not be allowed to unlawfully outlaw that which Parliament has enacted and made lawful,” they say.

The traders also argue that, in singling miraa traders for differential and discriminatory treatment, the devolved unit has sent a message to its officers that the traders are not entitled to protection under the law, making them liable to harassment.

The petitioners further claim that the county government is under obligation to provide a reasonable explanation as to why levies for miraa are high compared to other commodities.

They add that the county government did not explain why, while levies for most items have remained the same for 2024 as they were in 2023, miraa levies for 2024 have increased massively from last year’s charges.

The petitioners are seeking a declaration that miraa is a lawful crop duly classified as a Scheduled Crop under the Crops Act.

They also want a declaration that some items contained in the Mombasa County Finance Act 2024 are discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Mr Makara states that the leadership of the county government both in the executive and legislature, have publicly owned up to wishing to drive miraa traders out of Mombasa.

The petitioners want the court to issue a conservatory order suspending the implementation of the charge in some items contained in the Mombasa County Finance Act 2024 pending inter parte hearing of an application.

The court ordered that the county government be served with the case documents.

The matter comes up for mention on Wednesday, May 22.


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