Khat (miraa) and muguka traders in Mombasa have protested plans by the county government to double cess charges on the two stimulants.
The traders are now seeking the intervention of Meru and Embu governors Kawira Mwangaza and Cecily Mbarire, as well as Meru Senator Kathuri Murungi and Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi.
According to the traders, Mombasa County, through a proposed Finance Bill of 2022/2023, will increase the cess charged on khat from a flat rate of Sh45,000 per vehicle to up to Sh80,000.
In the new cess schedule, the county intends to charge Sh80,000 for a lorry ferrying more than seven tonnes and Sh50,000 for a lorry weighing less than seven tonnes.
A three-tonne lorry will pay Sh30,000, a pickup Sh20,000 and a handcart Sh10,000.
Another Sh1,500 shall be charged on muguka per box and Sh1,200 per sack of miraa if the bill is passed by the county assembly.
Muguka Association secretary-general Ian Mwobobia termed the increase astronomical and exorbitant.
“It is public knowledge that muguka and miraa traders have been victims of harassment and punitive taxes by Mombasa County since 2018... The taxes increase by more than 150 percent every year. This is despite the county government imposing levies on offloading, transportation and trading” Mr Mwobobia states.
He said khat is overcharged by more than 100 percent when compared to other agricultural products.
Mr Mwobobia warned that the hefty cess would kill many businesses in Mombasa.
“The governor had the courtesy to call us for a meeting but none of our proposals were factored in the Finance Bill. When we reached out in December, he told us to go talk to the county assembly yet the Bill originated from the executive,” he laments.