Blow to hundreds of traders as Nassir bans Muguka in Mombasa

Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir [right] with Meru leaders at his office in Mombasa when they paid him a courtesy visit at his office. [Omondi Onyango,Standard]

It is a big blow to thousands of Muguka traders in Central Kenya and Mombasa after Governor Abdulswamad Nassir made good his threat to ban its sale and consumption at the coastal city.

In a gazette notice issued on May 22, Nassir banned entry, transportation, distribution, sale, and use of Muguka and its products within Mombasa.

In the past days, political leaders from Meru and Embu tried to persuade Nassir not to ban the Miraa and Muguka trade in Mombasa or implement punitive levies passed by the county assembly.

Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire, Meru Senator Kathuri Murungi, and his Deputy Governor Mutuma M’ethingia met Nassir in an attempt to defend the trade of the stimulant.

“…….by the authority vested in me by the constitution and existing laws, do hereby order and direct that there be a total prohibition on the entry, transportation, distribution, sale, and use of Muguka and all its products within Mombasa County,” states the executive order.

In one of the biggest decisions that could also eat into Mombasa’s own-source revenue from permits and licenses, Nassir ordered that all outlets that sell the stimulant be closed down.

“All outlets, whether retail or wholesale, selling and or distrusting Muguka within Mombasa be closed immediately and or stopped from the sale of Muguka or its products,” ordered Nassir.

He said that no motor vehicle transporting Muguka shall be allowed entry into Mombasa, ordering the county departments to enforce the order without exception.

Nassir said he derived the powers to ban the sale of Muguka without public participation from Chapter 1 of the Constitution 2010 Article 2.

The said chapter of the Kenyan Constitution provides that all sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and they can either exercise it directly or through their elected leaders.

The notice states that in section 13 of the Fourth Schedule at part 2, it was the responsibility of the County Government to control drugs and substance abuse.

Nassir said he considered public sentiments and the greater public good through widespread public participation to ban the use of Muguka, cited by most local leaders as a menace.

He said he consulted the National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (Nacada) and other lead agencies in the war against drug abuse before he arrived at the decision.

“The County Government of Mombasa is alive to promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them,” declared Nassir.

The county boss said scientific evidence has “unequivocally established that Muguka consumption causes mental health diseases and disability.”

He said the stimulant also leads to other devastating health, social economic, and environmental consequences, and places a burden on minors, families, and the county systems.

The notice does not mention Miraa or the punitive levy recently passed by the county assembly. The new law states that all lorries carrying Miraa to Mombasa will pay Sh8,000.

Ms Mbarire and Mr Murungi had separately lobbied for the cess to be reduced from Sh8,000 to Sh6,000 per lorry. Nassir has issued a 7-day notice to close down the Miraa and Muguka outlets.

It was not yet clear what ripple effect the decision by Nassir would have in the other five counties at the Coast where elected leaders are also pushing for the ban on Miraa and Muguka.

He mentioned that he knows relatives and staff who consume Muguka and Miraa but urged them to use it in the privacy of their homes.

In the past days, traders pleaded with Nassir to allow them to self-regulate. Among the concerns of leaders in Mombasa is that the Muguka was sold near schools at a cheaper price.

“Our children can get a sachet of Muguka for as little as Sh20 near the schools. This cannot be allowed under my watch,” said Nassir during a media briefing in Mombasa.

In a report titled ‘Situational Assessment on Stimulant Use,’ Hussein Taib from MEWA Health and Harm Reduction, reports that stimulant is now sold near schools, making it easy for children to access it.

Mr Taib called on the county to censor the stimulant’s sale or declare it illegal, just like bhang and heroine. He said school-going children aged 10 to 17 years were chewing Mogoka.

 “The county government should consider banning the sale of Mogoka near schools. The children are finding it easy to access Miraa, classified as drugs and substances,” said Taib.