Governor Bans Sale of Miraa Over Coronavirus Fears

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Mandera Governor Ali Roba speaking on February 14, 2020.
Mandera Governor Ali Roba has suspended the transportation and sale of miraa in the county. The decision has been informed by the high risk of transmission of the Covid-19 virus while handling the commodity. 

The Governor is yet to clarify how long the directive will be in place. The directive is one in a slew of orders issued by other governors on Monday intended to protect their citizens.

It comes hours after Governor Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya ordered all public morgues closed.

Mandera Governor Ali Roba speaking on February 14, 2020.

Daily Nation

The order by Roba is, however, the first of its kind specifically targetting the khat industry in the country. Governor Roba has previously been accused by miraa traders in Mandera town of harbouring a plot to kick them out.

As per a report by the Daily Nation on January 8, 2019, the allegations were first voiced on Monday, January 9, 2019 after a mysterious fire burned the Mandera miraa market resulting in countless losses. 

Mohammed Salat, one of the traders voiced his fears then that the fire had been orchestrated.

“This is a very open incident planned by the county government so that we can leave this market for them to take over and build other structures,” Salat stated, adding, “This fire was started by the county government because they have always wanted us out of this market to another unknown area but we shall stay.”

The county government of Mandera had declared its intention to convert the market which hosts about 1,200 traders into a recreation centre. Since then, the market had burned a total of three times. 

Mandera Trade minister Abdiaziz Maad denied the county government’s involvement in the fires.
 
“That market remains a miraa market and we don’t have plans of relocating it after the traders opposed our proposal,” he asserted.

A man shows his sewing machines which were destroyed in a fire at the Mandera miraa market on January 8, 2019.

A man shows his sewing machines which were destroyed in a fire at the Mandera miraa market on January 8, 2019.

Daily Nation

A source who spoke to kenyagist.com noted that the suspension was yet to be felt as trucks ferrying miraa were still operating within the county.

“The trucks are still coming in but we will see if this changes tomorrow,” he clarified.

He could however not speak to the full rationale that informed the particular decision.

“I don’t know why he did it [issued the directive] but one thing I know about Roba is that he hates drugs. He’s anti-drug, ” he conjectured.