Drug peddlers and addicts in Mombasa are increasingly arming themselves with crude weapons to resist arrests as the crackdown on sale and use of narcotics intensifies in the region.
Kisauni police boss Richard Ngatia said in the recent operations in Kisauni and Likoni, suspected addicts were armed with knives.
The revelation comes even as the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) John Mututho criticised Coast police for arresting drug addicts, saying they should be taken to hospitals and rehabilitation centres and not be locked up in police cells.
“Addicts are sick people and they should not be treated as criminals. These are people who should be taken for medical attention but not to be loaded to police vans and taken to police cells,” said Mututho.
Last week, police in Kisauni shot dead a suspected peddler who attempted to stab a police officer during a crackdown at Makaburini area, where 23 suspects were arrested. Ngatia said the suspect, who was in the company of about five men, resisted arrest before suddenly drawing a knife and aiming at one officer.
“This incident happened when the officer raided the drug den and a group of men armed with knives and other crude weapons tried to attack the police officers,” he said, adding: “Police have a right to defend themselves, no one should try to harm an officer, police are there to help people.
We are fighting drugs for the betterment of our country.” Makaburini is among areas mapped as drug peddling hot spot in the Coast region. Ngatia also said most drug users and peddlers have fled their bases in fear of arrest as officers enforce President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive to wipe out narcotics.
Meanwhile, Mututho said Nacada requires Sh1 billion to address the resulting complications that come with drug withdrawal. Speaking in Mombasa at the weekend, he urged MPs to divert Sh20 million from Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to facilitate a rollout of rehabilitation programmes in the region.
Mututho said Nacada should not be blamed for the drug menace in Coast region since it is not adequately funded, and it is only mandated to undertake campaigns against drug use.
Mututho, who was accompanied by directors Sheikh Juma Ngao and Ann Mugo, said the government will be fighting a losing battle if calls to put up more rehabilitation centres in the worst hit areas is not heeded.
“I ask all governors and Members of Parliaments to set aside some funds from county budget and CDF, respectively to build rehabilitation centres. This is the only way the war will be won,” he said.