Authorities in south Yemen have banned the sale of the mild narcotic khat on weekdays, confirming that it will be only allowed into the city of Aden and its suburbs at weekends.
Checkpoints were set up on Monday around Aden to stop khat shipments from entering the port city. Patrols roamed markets to enforce the ban on its sales. It will only be permitted on weekends.
The statement said that the ban was prompted by complaints from citizens and due to “security, social and health” concerns, adding that khat markets also caused traffic jams.
Although khat is part of the social fabric of Yemen, chewing wads of the evergreen herb has a stimulant effect similar to drinking numerous cups of strong coffee.
This restriction on khat consumption was applied in the formerly independent south Yemen before it united with the north in the 1990s.
A local merchant told the Associated Press that some of his stock had been burned but he did manage to smuggle some into Aden.
Aden has served as the temporary capital of Yemen since forces loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi recaptured it and four other southern provinces from Shia fighters in the summer.
Southern militias that fought alongside Hadi’s loyalists have been mostly assimilated in security forces.