Five cargo planes destined for Mogadishu, Somalia, are stuck in Nairobi with miraa (khat) worth Sh60 million following the cancellation of flights to Somalia.
Nyambene Miraa Traders Association spokesman Kimathi Munjuri, however, said other flights carrying the stimulant destined for Somaliland had left the country.
On Monday, Somali minister for civil aviation Ali Ahmed Jangali said the country had decided to temporarily suspend all miraa imports to Somalia starting Tuesday.
In a letter addressed to Miraa Cargo Operators, Mr Jangali said: “While considering special circumstances, Somali Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority on behalf of the Federal Republic of Somalia is hereby informing all miraa cargo operators and anyone it may concern that miraa cargo flights and its operation into Somalia have been cancelled until further notice.”
The minister also said that any “violation [of] the Somali airspace and disregard of this notice will have consequences”.
In an interview with the Nation on Tuesday, Mr Munjuri said the losses would have been much higher but “it seems some traders were aware and did not transport it [miraa] to Nairobi.”
“We are all gearing to use alternative airports in Gulmudug State. The flights will be directed to Bosaso and Galcaio airports,” he said.
Mr Munjuri said the cargo is still being held at the airport while more miraa was stuck in Eastleigh and was likely to be returned to Meru.
“Some traders are engaging the Kenya airports management to establish what is happening. We are also consulting Kenyan leaders to know the way forward,” Mr Munjuri said.
One plane carries about 90 bags of miraa.
Antubetwe Kiongo MCA George Kaliunga, who is also a miraa farmer, said he is likely to lose Sh100,000 worth of the crop if the market is not restored.
Joseph Muturia, another miraa farmer, said he may lose Sh300,000 worth of the stimulant following the cancellation of flights.
“I was to harvest my crop this week but it seems I cannot fetch more than Sh20,000.
“The closure of Mogadishu means the local market will be saturated, leading to a big drop in prices,” Mr Muturia said.
Miraa Taskforce chairman Mwenda Nchooro said they were engaging the relevant authorities to reverse the decision.