Embu farmers fight ban of ‘muguka’ in Mombasa

Muguka traders

Muguka traders display their wares at Kongowea Market in Mombasa City on May 12.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • A farmer, Mr Samuel Gitonga, lamented that they would not survive without the trade.
  • Kilifi leaders blamed the stimulant for alleged increased immorality and poor health among the youth.

Farmers in Embu have vowed to fight the ban on muguka business in Mombasa and Kilifi amid calls by leaders in Coast for other counties in the region to follow suit.

On Saturday, Embu Deputy Governor Kinyua Mugo and Woman Representative Njoki Njeru led local residents in a demonstration in Embu town, causing a major traffic snarl-up.

They criticised Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir over the decision, saying they were not consulted to give their views before the ban was imposed.

“It is unfair for Mombasa to ban the sale of muguka, which is a cash crop that locals depend on for survival. Growing and selling of muguka is a legal business and the position taken in Mombasa is illegal,” said Ms Njeru.

A farmer, Mr Samuel Gitonga, lamented that they would not survive without the trade.

“The decision will kill our livelihoods. We shall continue taking to the streets until the ban is revoked,” said Mr Gitonga.

Close muguka outlets

Mombasa is the largest market for muguka nationally. Mr Nassir has ordered the closure of all muguka outlets in the region and directed county officials to enforce the directive with immediate effect.

“By the authority vested in me by the Constitution and existing laws ... hereby order and direct that there be a total prohibition on the entry, transportation and use of muguka and its products within Mombasa County,” he said.

The governor explained that he had made the decision after considering the sentiments of the residents during a public participation exercise and consulting the National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse (Nacada).

Mr Nassir said his administration had a constitutional responsibility to promote the right to health of residents and instil health consciousness among them.

“Scientific evidence has equivocally established that muguka consumption causes mental health issues and disability. Muguka leads to devastating health, social-economic, and environmental consequences and places a heavy burden on minors, families, the poor and the county’s health infrastructure,” he said.

 Farmers deliver 36 tonnes of muguka to Mombasa every day on average, earning them Sh10.8 million. They said Mombasa county started imposing heavy levies on muguka, with each lorry entering the county being charged Sh80,000 in a bid to kill their businesses.

Another farmer, Mr Edwin Munene, said plans are underway to obtain a court order restraining Governor Nassir from having his ban implemented.

Increased immorality

At the same time, leaders from Kilifi County among them Gender, Culture and National Heritage Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa have urged other coastal counties to follow suit.

Speaking in Ganze, the leaders blamed the stimulant for alleged increased immorality and poor health among the youth.

Nairobi-based lawyer George Kithi vowed to represent Mombasa and Kilifi counties in court if Embu County leaders filed a lawsuit to oppose the ban.

“I want to laud Governor [Gideon]Mung’aro for banning the substance since it has destroyed our youth. The youth spend their day time and night chewing the substance and when they go home they cannot perform. We want a stable society,” Ganze MP Kenneth Kazungu said.

 Ms Jumwa security agencies to enforce the bans in Kilifi and Mombasa counties.

“I have heard people saying that they are going to court and I want to tell them that we will not be scared and we shall fight for the ban to stay,” she said while urging the national government to support the ban. She termed as ironical the fact that leaders from the Mt Kenya region were in support of the fight against counterfeit alcohol but did not want Coast leaders to fight the sale of muguka in the region.

“The national government should support this fight and people should not just look at the aspect of business in muguka. They should also consider the lives and health of the people of the Coast. I fully support the President in the fight against all illicit substances,” said Mr Kazungu.