TANZANIA: Drug abuse, trafficking on the rise, warns president

Friday, June 29, 2007


Drug trafficking and abuse are increasing in Tanzania and concerted efforts must be made to check this trend, President Jakaya Kikwete has said.

"Tanzania used to be a transit point for drugs, but now the number of users is escalating very fast,” Kikwete said at public rally to mark international anti-narcotics day on 26 June in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's commercial capital.

He urged the police, other law enforcement bodies, parents and activists to step up the war against narcotics, saying trafficking and use of drugs had reached alarming levels. He said the problem was especially serious in Dar es Salaam, the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar and in the northern towns of Arusha, Mwanza and Tanga.

Between 2005 and 2006, police impounded 375 tonnes of bhang (a form of cannabis), 101.5kg of heroin and 35kg of morphine, among other prohibited substances, according to a statement issued by the country's anti-narcotics unit. It said at least 11,500 suspects were arrested over the two years on drug-related charges, with most arrests being made at airports, ports and streets in various parts of the country.

The president said 200 drug barons had been arrested and charged in court during the past two years. Some were jailed or fined, he said.

Kikwete directed local government authorities and teachers to ensure premises near schools were not turned into drug peddling centres or hideouts for criminals.

"We have to be vigilant in fighting the vice," he said.

Source: IRIN