Miraa farmers sue Murkomen, KAA over Sh4,000 levy at JKIA

Miraa farmers have opposed high levies imposed on the product at JKIA. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Miraa farmers have sued the Transport Cabinet Secretary and the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) over alleged excessive levies charged at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), Nairobi.

The farmers under  Nyambene Miraa Trade Association (Nyamita) in their case before High Court Judge Chacha Mwita claimed that they are being charged Sh4,000 for each vehicle that enters JKIA to deliver miraa

They argued that the levy is unfair and illegal as they were neither involved when JKIA management was coming up with the amount nor were they informed about it.

Miraa farmers lawyer Henry Kurauka told the court that they have lost Sh100 million from July last year owing to the amount charged.

He argued that JKIA management had discriminated against his clients as other farmers transporting cash crops through the airport were not being charged Sh4,000.

“The respondents have levied the said charges of Sh4,000 only to motor vehicles carrying miraa cargo and no other cash crops yet miraa is equally a cash crop within the meaning of Schedule I of the Crops Act, Cap. 318, Laws of Kenya and which does not discriminate against miraa crop,” argued Kurauka.

Kurauka claimed that his clients are suffering despite the government and Kenyans benefitting from the cash crop.

He argued that despite critics labeling miraa as a harmful, it has medicinal value and a stimulant just as tea and coffee.

“Chewers have less risk of contracting high blood pressure, diabetes, cancerous cells and boosts alertness, wellness and brain performance of consumers. Miraa crop is scientifically classified as a mild stimulant just like coffee and tea which has no medical implications for consumption,” he claimed.

Kurauka said the levy goes against Kenya Kwanza’s agenda to elevate farmers and Wanjiku from poverty.

The lawyer submitted that the levy was hurting miraa business and goes against the 1995 concession order that designated Wilson Airport as the miraa transit hub.

“The petitioner persuades this honourable court to issue reliefs to stop the Respondents from charging the said levies and to order the respondents to refund the amount paid amounting to about Sh100 million,” he argued.

Nyamita chairman Kimathi Munjuri told the court that that his members sell miraa to 28 counties including Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia, DRC, Tanzania, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Djibouti, and Mozambique.

Munjuri claimed that the charges and negative campaign against miraa was hurting farmers and traders.

He argued that there is no law or policy in Kenya that prohibits or discourages use, sale and export of miraa or its products.

“Petitioner avers that, Miraa traders, consumers and farmers have been consuming miraa for decades without any medical and or social adverse effects. There is no reported medical condition that is solely attributed to Khat consumption. There are no rehabilitation centers for miraa users. There are no fatal cases arising from miraa consumption,” he said. 

Justice Mwita ordered Nyamita to serve the Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen and KAA.

He fixed hearing on June 27, 2024. 

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