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Mingkaman trader demands compensation as shisha business flourishes despite ban

Mingkaman trader demands compensation as shisha business flourishes despite ban
A woman smokes shisha at the newly-established 'center for shisha business' in Mingkaman town on Thursday, August 31, 2023| Credit | David Riak

A businesswoman in Awerial County, Lakes State, is demanding the county government to compensate her for the losses she incurred following the ban on shisha in 2022.

Shisha, also known as hookah, is a single- or multi-stemmed instrument for heating or vaporizing and then smoking either tobacco, flavored tobacco, or sometimes cannabis, hashish, and opium.

The smoke is passed through a water basin – often glass-based – before inhalation.

Last year, the county government illegalized the stimulant, also known as shisha, citing Lakes State Customary Law section 26, which also criminalizes sale and consumption of alcohol and Marijuana.

But Tabisa Akuach, who now claims did lose SSP300,000 in 2022 when she had to close down down, some people are freely running the same business.

“I am complaining because I loss a lot and now I see the same business being run in the market,” Akuach told Mingkaman FM on Thursday. “I want to tell the government that law is a law, and it should apply to all the citizens.”

She says those running the shisha business had to bribe some county officials, some of whom smoke it. Others, she claimed, are members of the organized forces and workers from the office of the county commissioner.

“Why is it that there are those exempted from the law and those that are affected by the same law? This is unfair, and that is why I demand for compensation,” said Akuach, who is now a tea seller.

Some of the women who have been running the shisha business at the Mingkaman market declined to talk to this media outlet due to fear of reprisal by security operatives.

When contacted for a comment, Awerial County Commissioner Philip Mawut said he was not aware of any shisha business being run in the market.

However, he did not accept any suggestion to pay back those who encountered losses during crackdown since last year.

“There is no reason for us to compensate anything that is illegal. Those who are demanding compensation are not right. But we will destroy their apparatuses and take them to the court to face the law,” he added.