Local News

Lamu ice block dealers want border reopened to save trade

Wonder why miraa traders use the same route to Somalia when the border is closed.

by The Star Jun 14th 2020 · 1 min read
Lamu ice block dealers want border reopened to save trade

Lamu ice block dealers have appealed for the reopening of the Kenya-Somalia border to save their trade.

The traders have for decades survived by selling ice blocks to fish dealers in Somalia. 

Traders transport ice blocks into Mogadishu, Kismayo and other Somali towns on boats with coolants via the Indian ocean. 

In June last year, the government shut down the Kenya-Somalia border, including the Kiunga border point in Lamu to deter smugglers, terrorists and human traffickers. The ban remains in force.

Mohamed Mwenye, the spokesperson of the Lamu Ice Block Dealers Association, said the coronavirus pandemic has greatly hurt their trade.

He said since the closure of the border, they have been forced to sell the ice blocks to local dealers at a loss.

Speaking in Lamu on Sunday, the traders wondered what criteria the government was using to allow miraa traders to use the same route to Somalia when the border is closed. 

They accused the state of employing double standards and favouritism on the issue.

The dealers have urged the state to allow them to carry on with their trade which has employed hundreds of local youth.

“We find it unfair that miraa traders are still selling to Somalia yet we are being told not to because the border is closed. Let the standards apply equally. Our appeal is that they allow us to continue with our trade. We will abide by all the Covid-19 regulations,” Mwenye said.

Lamu Fishermen and Dealers Association chairperson Abubakar Twalib said they are collecting signatures to push for the reopening of the border.

“We are targeting 1,000 signatures which we intend to use to push for the reopening of the border. We have suffered and we feel our trade doesn’t pose any danger to efforts to fight coronavirus. Someone should listen to us,” Twalib said.

Lamu county commissioner Irungu Macharia said that the border ban remains in force and must be respected by all.

Macharia said those alleged to be crossing into Somalia are smugglers taking advantage of the porous border and will be arrested and prosecuted.

“Our border patrol officers have heightened their vigils in such areas. This being a matter of national security, we are looking into the best possible way to go about it,” Macharia said.

last updated: 2020-06-14@23:06