It’s time traders and stakeholders in the miraa sector revisited the manner they are carrying out their business including respecting the law and rights of others.
They must modernize their business approach and embrace technology; otherwise, the losses from the current way they are doing things will be huge.
The manual approach of miraa carrying pick ups racing to Nairobi daily, the massive alteration they make to the vehicles and the impunity the drivers show to other road users and the associated loss to life and property is untenable.
It’s time they started using refrigerated vehicles to preserve and transport the product to their markets of export points- after all, flower farmers/exporters and fish traders having been using refrigerated vehicles, without hitches.
Otherwise, Kenyans will be expecting action from the authorities on why they allow such alternations to be done on the pick -ups, the speed limits and road use manners associated with the trade. It helps the traders to remove the tag and perception that miraa trade is a rogue business, for its not.
The demand that the private sector must as a matter of urgency accept to infuse a human rights regime in their operations has gained momentum globally and the Kenya business community has no option but to join the band wagon.
It is imperative that companies realized that their activities have major direct or indirect, positive and negative impacts on human rights are thus expected to understand this thus accept mechanisms and initiatives aimed mitigating these effects as we push for accountability.
Given that the product is exported, efforts must be done to improve quality and human rights standards in the sector, and investors in the business should embrace some innovativeness, as nurture this business.
The traders cannot afford to do the business the same way it was done 20 years ago. They must modernize the business and show care to their employees and other Kenyans, especially road users.
Indications are that consumers show more acceptability to products that meet basic quality standards and production processes meet basic human rights requirements.
I remember how the fish traders along Lake Victoria world race with fish from Busijo, Bumbe, Port Victoria and Osieko beaches in Busia County to Kisumu daily before the fish was loaded into refrigerated vehicles for subsequent transport to Nairobi.
The accidents witnessed on the Busia-Kisumu road, bribes to traffic police, harassment to other road users was intolerable.
Nowadays, they use cold storage facilities and have ensured safe and high standards of transport to the fish.
While flowers are perishable and largely exported to external destinations, the traders have adopted safe transport mechanisms through use of cold storage.
The Miraa traders should borrow from their neighbors in Nanyuki who transport flowers to Nairobi.
Cold storage facilities will allow them to harvest the product, package them, ensure health standards and comfortably transport them to the expert points.
The amounts of resources that go into altering and upgrading the vehicles to enable the racing their do on the roads, the show of impunity by the drivers on the road, and the parking on the products in sacks and re used boxes/crates is gradually becoming outdated.
It’s a risk to the business and other Kenyans in the region. Even newspaper transport has changed and the distances covered by the vehicles reduced.
Statistics from road accidents associated miraa transport are not encouraging, and more importantly, the impunity shown by the drivers is not something to be happy about.
The author is the Programmes Manager at the Media Council of Kenya