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A miraa lobby has protested after a plane with 13.6 tons of khat was turned back just before entering the Ethiopian airspace on its way to Hargeisa, Somaliland.

The chartered flight took off from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Saturday carrying Sh8 million worth of khat to Somaliland.

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Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) through Chairman Kimathi Munjuri, on Monday, said they had petitioned Kenyan government agencies, including Transport and Foreign Affairs ministries over the issue.

Mr. Munjuri said they had permission from Somaliland to transport miraa and had obtained all clearance certificates to take off from JKIA.

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“All other permits from Kenyan government had been secured, thus guaranteeing miraa traders that it was okay to charter the aircraft,” he said.

After obtaining the relevant permits the traders had on Thursday bought miraa from farmers in Meru and transported it to Nairobi on Friday night.

But before the plane entered the Ethiopian airspace it was ordered to turn back, and now the traders said they had lost income because the miraa is at JKIA.

The lobby now wants to know who and why the flight was turned back.

“Actually when the news reached Hargeisa there was almost a riot because there is no miraa reaching them from Ethiopia,” Munjuri said.

He said remedial action by relevant agencies, including the Kenya Airports Authority, should be taken to ensure it does not recur.

The traders said the opening of the Somaliland market for miraaa had come as a relief as the product had lost markets.

Johnson Mungathia, a miraaa trader, said the miraa growing community wants the county and national governments to engage with neighboring countries with a view to enabling access.

“We want neighboring countries to open up their airspaces to miraa flights, to ensure there is a trade between all the people,” said Mr. Mungathia.

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