Muguka transporters prevail after clash with Mombasa County officers

Muguka transporters clash with ounty officers after they were denied entry into Mombasa

An altercation erupted in the Bonje area of Mombasa when county inspectorate officers tried to stop muguka traders from entering the port city.

The traders, who had stayed away from Mombasa since the governor issued an executive order banning the stimulant last Thursday, arrived in Bonje in the morning with trucks carrying the product.

The move came after a court in Embu issued an interim order restraining the governors of Mombasa, Kilifi and Taita Taveta from implementing the muguka ban.

The traders and county officials clashed, with the inspectorate standing its ground and insisting that it was waiting for the court orders to be served.

The traders, on the other hand, were angry and wanted to take their goods to the market, claiming that the goods were highly perishable.

During the scuffle, some engaged in fisticuffs, prompting the county officials to withdraw their vehicles, which they had used to barricade the road.

One of the county officials was later seen with torn clothes as a result of the chaos, which lasted for several minutes.

Shortly afterwards, the truck drivers made their way into town, dropping off their produce at Kongowea market, where wholesale buyers were already waiting.

Traders' excitement as muguka arrives in Mombasa after lifting of ban

Earlier in the week, Kwale County had begun to emerge as a smuggling hotspot for muguka.

An investigation by the Nation revealed that vehicles carrying muguka entered the county through the Samburu-Kinango junction on the Mombasa-Nairobi highway.

The drivers would then drive through Kinango, Kwale town to Kombani Junction, a road that connects Kwale to Mombasa County.

Smuggled to Mombasa

The product was then unloaded at Kombani trading centre where it was repackaged and smuggled to Mombasa through the Likoni ferry channel.

Kwale Governor Fatuma Achani has assured residents that she will not ban the use of muguka, but will use strict laws to control its consumption.

Speaking to the press at her office, Ms Achani said her administration was taking firm measures, including higher taxes in the coming financial year, to reduce its negative impact on residents.

The Kwale County Finance Bill 2024, which is now in the County Assembly, went through public participation and the Kwale community gave their views on the use of muguka in the area.

According to the bill, residents called for an increase in muguka fees from Sh10,000 to Sh100,000 per vehicle entering the county, noting that this was the best way to regulate the muguka business.

However, Muguka traders in Kwale have protested the move to increase fees, saying it will hurt their business.

"We are happy that the governor has taken into consideration that business helps so many people in this county. We know that the business is done by both locals and people from upcountry. Most of us depend on this business for our livelihood. It will be unfair if the licences and revenues are increased, making it difficult for us to afford it," said Pauline Kathure, a representative of the traders.

Philomena Mutua, who sells chewing gum, said she depended on the muguka trade for her sales.

"If the muguka trade fails, it means my business will fail and I will not be able to feed my family," said Ms Mutua.

Muguka in Kwale is sold in packages starting at Sh50, making it affordable for most people.