Miraa traders in Kenya and Somalia have gone back to the drawing board after Mogadishu intensified its crackdown on Kenyan khat.
This comes after 14 days within which the government was expected to facilitate reopening of the Somalia miraa market lapsed.
Two weeks ago, Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi and Igembe North MP Maore Maoka led a delegation of traders and elected leaders in a meeting with Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i who vowed to fast-track resolution of the diplomatic tiff.
But, according to Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) chair Kimathi Munjuri, the situation has worsened in the last one week with miraa being confiscated and dumped into the sea.
“Five boats delivering miraa through the Indian Ocean were impounded and the miraa thrown away last week. The police are forcing traders to deal with Ethiopian khat only.
“We have lost more than 17 tonnes of miraa in the crackdown targeting our sea distribution lines. Several bags were burnt by Somali police last week. Business has deteriorated in the last one week,” Mr Munjuri said.
The Nyamita chairman said the hostility has heightened despite foreign affairs officials from Kenya and Somalia entering an agreement last week.
“We are aware that Kenya agreed to allow various products from Somalia, including meat and milk, while Kenya will export several products. But the agreement is yet to be ratified because it is yet to reach President Farmajo,” he said.
Mr Munjuri said Somali based miraa traders had reported that a woman trader was shot dead for insisting on selling Kenyan khat.
He said the situation has been complicated by the fact that most of the diplomatic issues President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somalia counterpart agreed on last year were yet to be fulfilled.
He said the traders are now looking forward to a political solution to the stalemate.
“We are asking the governor and Mr Maoka to engage the President again to resolve this stalemate. These differences are not good for miraa business,” the Nyamita chairman said.
The traders met in Eastleigh on Thursday to review progress in the bilateral engagements.
Last month, Somalia allowed imports of Ethiopian khat, effectively locking out Kenyan traders.