17 arrested in Nyali crackdown on shisha

A young man smokes shisha at Bellavista Bar and Lounge in Kisii town on December 25, 2017. Photo | BENSON MOMANYI | NMG
A young man smokes shisha at a bar. Photo | BENSON MOMANYI | NMG 

At least 17 people have been arrested since the year began in the ongoing crackdown on shisha users in Nyali, Mombasa.

Nyali OCPD Christopher Rotich said the suspects include both smokers and traders of the outlawed tobacco substance.

“In our operation we also managed to seize 11 shisha pots in different clubs. To date some of those arrested have been arraigned in court to answer charges,” said Mr Rotich Wednesday.

He said since the crackdown began, a number of establishments in Nyali have opted to change their businesses, with some that used to sell the water-pipe tobacco no longer selling it to revellers.

“We have not shut down any club. Most of the club owners are now operating in line with the law,” added Mr Rotich.

Ban 'miscalculated'

The operation in the coastal hub continues even as Tourism CS Najib Balala last week termed the ban on shisha a miscalculated directive that will hurt the economy.

The CS said the government should not have banned the substance but instead taxed it more to generate revenue.

Mr Balala said a number of youth have been rendered jobless following the directive and the ensuing closure of some clubs.

“The whole world has shisha, why ban it in Kenya? If we have issues of health, put a tax. Why don’t you ban cigarettes. Why don’t you ban alcohol? I am not a smoker so I am not defending shisha smokers,” said Mr Balala.

He said some measures taken by government agencies ended up frustrating business owners.

His remarks have been met with mixed reactions by Kenyans with some supporting and others criticising his sentiments.