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Why fighting drug menace in Coast is huge headache

A few days after President Uhuru Kenyatta directed Coast legislators to lead a crackdown on the drug menace, the leaders and police are caught up in a dilemma on how to undertake the operation. This is because of the suspicion, complicity and secrecy in which drug trade is carried out.

A crackdown in Changamwe saw police arrest 40 people and recover 52 sachets of heroin and 34 big rolls of bhang. However, there are also reports that many of the known drug dealers in Shimanzi, Magodoroni, Uwanja wa Mbuzi Barsheba, Uwanja wa Bangi, Old Town, Mkomani and Bamburi have gone underground.

The suspects, who include drug peddlers and addicts, were arrested in Portreiz, Chaani, Mikindani and Miritini area of Changamwe. Anti-drugs campaigners claim there has been complicity and involvement of some of the local leaders in the illicit trade and police who have allegedly been receiving huge kickbacks as protection fee for drug barons.

Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa has on several occasions claimed police in the County are on the payroll of drug barons and that was why the fight against drugs at the Coast has not been successful.

However, the allegations are not entirely new, but the law enforcers have been cast to the fore and now their commitment or otherwise to defeat drug trade is on the spotlight. But speaking after meeting MPs at Fort Jesus, Marwa said police and local leaders have mapped out all drug dens in readiness for the crackdown.

“We doubt whether this crackdown will be successful like that carried out in Central region. This retailers who in turn distribute the same to peddlers for sale at various dens. “We welcome the directive by the President, but we want to say the war against drugs Mombasa should not be seen in the same perspective with that of illicit brews.

These drugs are not manufactured here and are not distributed or sold in a designated place like bars,” he said. Saad said a lot of intelligence work and time will be needed in ensuring that the crackdown succeeds.

“Kenya should borrow a leaf from the US. If we want to stop drug trade in Coast, we must arrest the drug barons so as to stop supply. But closing down dens and arresting peddlers at the dens will not stop drug trade,” he said.

Meanwhile, Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya organising secretary Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa urged all leaders to join hands to fight the menace. He called on security agencies to work closely with locals to ensure operation against drugs succeeds.

Speaking on Friday during the official opening of Mombasa International ASK Show at Mkomani ground, Uhuru said his government his government would spare no efforts in tackling the drug menace. t Several other Civil Society Organisations have also called on the President to address the drugs problem in Coast from a public health perspective.

Kenya Harm Reduction Network (KHRN) and Kenya Network of People who use Drugs/affected by drugs (KENPUD) also demanded involvement in the crackdown so as to ensure they are carried out in humane manner and relevant, long term and sustainable strategies to address the issue of drug use are put in place.

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