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Mombasa and Embu counties agree to regulate sale of muguka and miraa to minors

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Governor Mbarire urged traders to collaborate with the county government, especially the selected compliance officials, to ensure compliance.

Mombasa and Embu county governments have reached an agreement to regulate the sale of muguka and miraa to children under 18 years old, in a significant move to address their consumption among minors.

The consensus followed a series of meetings and consultations between Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir and his Embu counterpart, Cecily Mbarire. 

Governor Abdulswamad said he had received a call from Governor Mbarire, which led to a cooperative effort between the two counties to tackle the issue.

"We have engaged in several meetings with various stakeholders, including Christian and Muslim religious leaders, who agree with our county’s stance. After listening to everyone, including Meru and Embu community traders, we realised the need to take this step," said Governor Abdulswamad. 

"Our objective is not to stifle the economy or harm anyone, but to protect our children, who are increasingly getting involved with these products. Every day we see incidents of juvenile gangs carrying machetes or minors ending up in rehabilitation centres because of muguka consumption."

To enforce the new regulations, Governor Abdulswamad announced that two members from the Embu and Meru communities, drawn from the county assemblies and led by county government officials, will physically deliver notice letters to miraa and muguka traders by Thursday, May 16. 

The notice letters will direct them to comply with the new county regulations on products that are not classified as drugs or banned substances in Kenya. 

Transport companies that handle muguka and miraa shipments will also receive letters with orders to either ferry the products exclusively or passengers.

"We will start with the transport sector. We cannot tolerate the concealment of muguka and Miraa without knowing their destination. If caught, the vehicle owner will face consequences," he added.

Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir at press briefing on Miraa and Muguka held in Mombasa on Wednesday, May 14, 2024. (Photo: Farhiya Hussein) Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir addresses a press briefing on the control of miraa and muguka consumption by underage children in Mombasa on May 14, 2024. (Photo: Farhiya Hussein)

Additionally, Governor Abdulswamad emphasised the need to sell muguka and miraa away from educational and religious institutions, similar to guidelines curbing banned substances.

"I have requested a mapping of all schools, mosques, and madrasas. Shops within 100 metres of these institutions must stop selling muguka and miraa, and if they continue to operate, they can only sell regular goods like sugar and milk."

Miraa and muguka dealers are also set to be licensed to ensure that those who sell the products are known to enhance regulatory measures.

"Notices will expire soon, and we don't want any excuses from dealers. Once the notice expires, the county protocol takes effect. We are not banning muguka and miraa, as they are considered cash crops, but we are putting measures in place to protect our children."

On her side, Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire, along with several of the county’s members of her county assembly, supported the initiative, noting that the easy accessibility of these substances to children necessitated stringent regulations.

"We have sensitised parents on this issue and discouraged children from participating in farming muguka. The regulations Mombasa is implementing align with what we aim to enforce in Embu," said Governor Mbarire.

Governor Mbarire also addressed the economic implications, acknowledging the significant losses traders could face but stressing the importance of following regulations.

"Muguka and Miraa are scheduled cash crops, and we need to coordinate their trade effectively. As the people of Embu, we support the need to regulate their trade in Mombasa to protect our children," she stated. 

The two counties agreed to form a committee, comprising community representatives and county government officials, to oversee the implementation of these regulations.

Governor Mbarire urged traders to collaborate with the county government, especially the selected compliance officials, to ensure the regulations are adopted seamlessly. 

"Protecting our children is a moral obligation. We must ensure muguka and miraa are only consumed by adults," concluded Governor Mbarire. "Let's make reasonable decisions for the future of our counties."

During the meeting, the Governor of Embu also proposed lowering the cess fee from Sh80,000 to Sh60,000 to cushion businesses in her county from collapsing amid the harsh economic times. 

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