The Star (Nairobi)

6 June 2014

Kenya: Bill Seeks to Ban Mombasa Drivers From Using Miraa

PUBLIC Service Vehicle operators in Mombasa who chew miraa while on duty will face the law if a Bill by a nominated county representative is passed by the county assembly.

It proposes that drivers found chewing miraa, a common practice with matatu drivers in Mombasa, will be fined Sh100,000 or be jailed for one and a half years. Nominated MCA Fatma Swaleh yesterday said the Bill is ready and will be tabled in the House next Tuesday.

She said it will affect matatu, tuktuk and boda boda operators. "Operators who chew miraa while on duty are rude to passengers and cause accidents," Swaleh told the Star on the phone.

She said last month's accident at Buxton, in which a matatu driver knocked down and killed a pedestrian who was crossing at a zebra crossing, happened because the driver was high on miraa.

The bill has received support from various stakeholders who want it passed as quickly as possible. Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya organising secretary Sheikh Khalifa Mohamed said miraa is a drug and should not be abused.

"It is wrong for someone to chew miraa in public and drive while doing it," he said. Mohamed said the bill should be supported and passed in the Mombasa assembly. He said thugs in streets first use miraa before graduating to bhang and finally hard drugs like cocaine and heroin.

"Miraa has also been reported to be breaking marriages especially in North Eastern where wives recently demonstrated over the habit," Mohamed said. Matatu Owners Association Coast coordinator Salim Mbarak said the Bill will ensure there is discipline on the road.

"Many miraa chewing operators do not deliver the whole amount collected in a day to owners. They leave some for themselves so they can buy miraa," he said.

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