The Kenya Airports Authority’s (KAA) decision to move the handling of miraa to a privately owned warehouse along Mombasa Road has been attributed to security concerns, the Business Day Africa has established.

This move has sparked discontent among miraa traders, who argue that it was not a decision reached through a proper agreement.

Traders claim that a meeting held last week by the head of Public Service, Felix Koskei, and other key stakeholders did not result in a consensus regarding their relocation.

They assert that KAA’s actions are based on a directive that was not officially issued. Kimathi Munjuri, the Nyambane Miraa Traders Association Chairperson, has accused KAA of hasty eviction from the airport without providing adequate notice.

“We are deeply concerned about KAA’s directive, and we register our protest against it due to the very short notice it provides. It distorts what was agreed upon during the meeting,” Mr Munjuri said.

A batch of miraa. Image: courtesy.
A batch of miraa. Images: courtesy.

KAA, on Saturday, instructed miraa exporters to use the Mitchell Cotts warehouse along Mombasa Road to process their consignments before being transported to the airport for overseas shipments.

A letter from KAA’s acting managing director, Henry Ogoye, clearly stated that no miraa pickups would be allowed access to JKIA premises, in line with the security meeting discussions.

This directive by KAA is effective from October 9, and it remains uncertain whether the traders will comply with it.

Traders argue that there have been no previous instances of idlers at the airport, as alleged by KAA, and they refute the claim that their presence poses a security threat.

“All our personnel undergo prior registration, and their information is comprehensively recorded by KAA before they enter the facility. The accusation that our employees loiter at the airport and present a security risk is unfounded,” Mr Munjuri emphasised.

Furthermore, Mr Munjuri criticised KAA for relocating them to Mitchell Cotts, a private warehouse, without their input or the opportunity to nominate a warehouse of their preference.

He mentioned that they currently operate four warehouses at the airport, including one leased from KAA.

The arrangements between the airport and airlines handling the transportation of miraa to the market, as well as who will bear the cost of the last-mile connection from the warehouse to the airport, remain unclear.

Airlines typically have their holding sheds within the airport premises for storing cargo intended for shipment.