Miraa Ban Sparks Angry Protests, Police Fire Teargas [VIDEO]

Protesters in Mandera town, Mandera County light fires to protest a ban on the sale of miraa on Sunday, March 22, 2020
Protesters in Mandera town, Mandera County light fires to protest a ban on the sale of miraa on Sunday, March 22, 2020


Police clashed with small traders at Kibuye Market in Kisumu town, Kisumu County on Sunday, March 22.

Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o had ordered the closure of the market to effectively control the potential spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The traders, however, insisted that they were not ready to shut down their businesses as it would leave them without a source of income. Anti-riot police eventually managed to disperse the protesters after firing teargas and engaging them in running battles.

Police were on Sunday, March 22, forced to fire teargas to disperse a large group of traders who gathered in Mandera Town for demonstrations over a directive by Mandera Governor Ali Roba temporarily banning the transportation and sale of miraa (khat) in the county.

The directive issued on Monday, March 16, was announced as a precautionary measure to combat the spread of Coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

The traders, however, demanded that the ban be lifted as it was the sole source of their livelihoods.

Chants of 'No miraa, no peace," rent the air as the protesters carried twigs and lit fires along the road before police stepped in.

Mandera Governor Ali Roba speaking on February 14, 2020.
Mandera Governor Ali Roba speaking on February 14, 2020.
Daily Nation

The protesters dispersed soon after the police arrived, firing teargas that sent the croed scampering for safety.

The directive by Governor Roba was part of the county's response plan to avoid Covid-19.

The traders, however, maintained that they were being edged out, particularly with past clashes between the governor and the traders who accuse the county government of working to kick them out of a popular market.

“There are more than 500 women in the miraa business in Mandera East alone with many others in other parts of this county. That decision is unfair and the governor did not consult us before making it.

“We have a number of people transporting miraa from Meru region to Mandera and others doing the same to areas as far as Dholo and Bulahawa in Somalia.

"What other sources of income has the county government put in place before banning the sale of miraa?” Rukia Ali Abdi, the chairperson of Mandera East Miraa Dealers Association, had posed on Tuesday, March 17.

The traders are primarily based at the Mandera miraa market, with the county having previously disclosed plans to convert the market which hosts about 1,200 traders into a recreational center.

After a fire razed down part of the market in January 2019, a section of the traders pointed fingers at the county government which they accused of plotting to force them out of the market.

"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,

"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," one of the traders identified as Mohammed Salat told the Daily Nation.

Trade CEC Abdiaziz Maad, however, distanced the county administration from any links to the fires. He insisted that the county had dropped plans to convert the market in light of opposition towards the plan by traders.

"That market remains a miraa market and we don’t have plans of relocating it after the traders opposed our proposal,” Maad stated at the time.

Watch a video of the protests in Mandera below:

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