Miraa farmers are a worried lot following a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in favour of Somalia in a maritime border row with Kenya.
Addressing journalists, Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) led by chairman Jacob Mureithi are requesting President Uhuru Kenyatta to speed talks with Somalia to reopen the key market or provide alternatives for their produce.
“This boundary dispute between Kenya and Somalia has been there since we were children. I want to urge our President to look for other possible markets for our produce to avoid losses,” Martin Tebei, a trader said.
In March this year, miraa traders stared at losses estimated to be close to Ksh.5 million after the Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) ruled that the herb remains illegal in the country.
This follows after the Somali government gave Kenya five conditions ahead of lifting the blockade of miraa imports.
The demands included that Kenya must treat Somalia as an equal, desist from interfering with Somalia’s internal affairs, apologise for violating Somalia airspace, allow in goods from Somalia including fish, rice, sugar, honey, meat and milk and Kenya stops forcing flights from Somalia to make a detour to Wajir for inspection.
Somalia had also demanded government-to-government talks after it snubbed a delegation of traders and officials from Kenya crops regulator—Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA).
Kenya and Somalia could potentially face a fresh row after the International Court of Justice ruled largely in favour of Mogadishu in their long-running maritime dispute.
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President Kenyatta has already said that the ruling could relations between the two, maintaining grounds that Kenya would not cede even an inch of her territory.
The 14-member ICJ panel of judges on Tuesday handed the lion’s share of the disputed territory to Somalia whose officials have been “celebrating the victory” and handed the rest to Kenya which has rejected the ruling, dismissing it as biased and one-sided.
Already the conflicting rhetoric from Nairobi and Mogadishu is setting the scene for a head-on collision between the two East African neighbours who have witnessed some turbulent relations in recent years.