Nassir refuses to bow to pressure on miraa, muguka

Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire (left) and her Mombasa counterpart Abdulswamad Nassir speak after a meeting on May 15, 2024. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir has refused to bow to pressure to drop the new cess levy charged on miraa and muguka.

Political leaders from Meru and Embu had petitioned the governor to consider reviewing the charges following a series of meetings with delegations from the two counties.

Mr Nassir said the Sh8,000 charged on a lorry of miraa or muguka entering the county will remain in force even as the visiting leaders pleaded with him to review the new charges.

Separate delegations led by Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire and Meru Senator Kathuri Murungi had wanted the cess reduced from Sh8,000 to Sh6,000 per lorry.

Nassir also declined to withdraw the seven-day notice issued by the county government to close down all shops selling miraa and muguka.

The governor insisted that miraa and muguka outlets should be separate from general commodity shops.

He also announced that muguka should not be chewed in matatus, tuk tuks and even buses during working hours.

Nassir also directed that bus companies should stop carrying miraa and muguka or risk being fined Sh8,000 in default.

He was speaking at his office after meeting the senator, MPs and MCAs who mounted pressure on him to drop the tough measures on the produce from their region.

"My stand remains the same, the closure of miraa and muguka shops is in force. The charges on the lorries remain the same although we agreed it would be reviewed by the MCAs at a later date," Nassir insisted.

Murungi pleaded with the county chief to treat miraa traders differently from the muguka sellers saying that miraa had not been an issue until muguka became a problem.

"As Meru people, we have been sending miraa to Mombasa for decades and it has not been a problem. But since muguka came into the market, it has raised issues that should not be linked to miraa," Murungi pleaded.

He said muguka comes from Embu while miraa comes from Meru and the two are distinct crops and should be treated differently by the county.

But Nassir rejected calls from religious and political leaders to ban the sale of the two crops but announced tough measures to regulate its trade.

After hours of a meeting with Ms Mbarire earlier, Nassir said his administration would review the punitive levy imposed on lorries transporting the stimulant to Mombasa.

"We will not ban miraa and mogoka. We will also consider reviewing the levy introduced by the county assembly but ensure the stimulant does not reach the children,” he said.

Mbarire supported Nassir's decision to protect the rights of children from using miraa and muguka saying that even in Embu, children were not allowed to chew the stimulants.