DAR ES SALAAM: THE number of drug users hooked on cocaine and heroin has decreased following various interventions undertaken by the government to disband illicit drug supply chains.
The good news was revealed by various stakeholders including directors of sober houses while reacting to the Drug Control and Enforcement Authority’s (DCEA) historic achievement of seizing a total of 3,182 kilogrammes of heroin and methamphetamine this week.
According to them, the number of drug users has decreased, as to-date a large portion of people who are accommodated in sober houses are addicted to alcohol and cannabis, unlike ten years back when many users were hooked on cocaine and heroin.
Director of Pillimissanah Foundation Sober House, Ms Pilli Missanah said the successful seizing of the large consignment of drugs is due to the DCEA and other government machineries’ relentless and patriotic efforts which discovered some of the major illicit drug supply networks.
Ms Missanah said the seizure is a clear indication of the strengthened government’s anti-drug monitoring and surveillance system, including in ports and roads, adding that similar operations are utilised to mitigate drug users in major cities, including Dar es Salaam, Mwanza and Arusha.
She said to-date it is very rare to find drug users hanging around on the streets, hinting that even the number of admissions in her houses are decreasing.
Ms Missanah, who is one of the pioneers of sober house establishment in the country, told the ‘Sunday News’ that so far she has six sober houses, four located in Dar es Salaam, one in Mwanza and another in Arusha Region.
“DCEA’s Commissioner, Mr Ateras Lyimo and his team are doing an exemplary job in battling against illicit drug supply and usage. I am a good witness on this, as a director of sober houses, currently the number of addicted people seeking for treatment has decreased compared to 2012 when I established my foundation,” she said.
Today, she said she accommodates about 193 addicted people in her six sober houses, where only 55 are addicted to cocaine and heroin while the rest 138 are addicted to alcohol and cannabis.
She said statistics shows that great achievements has been made countrywide to cut off the supply of deadly substances, especially cocaine and heroin.
However, Ms Missanah is alarmed that due to the tight control of cocaine and heroin, drug users are shifting to the use of painkillers which are addictive, calling on the government to put special focus on the emerging new form of addictions.
She said concerted efforts, including great emphasis on good upbringing and fear of God from family to national level will win the fight against drug abuse and supply, adding “all people should cultivate a sense of humanity.”
To maintain effective anti-drug operations, Director of the Muungano Recovery Community Tanzania Kingamboni Sober House, Mr Ally Doo called on all people in the country to cooperate with DCEA through timely provision of any information pertaining to abusers.
Mr Doo said drug abuse destroys the country’s workforce, cuts national revenue and foreign currency generation and fuels money laundering due to its illegitimate nature.
He said drug abuse also can increase crime incidents, including theft and robberies as addicted people can easily be lured into risky behaviours.
Equally, he said the number of addicted people in the country is decreasing, saying currently his sober house has 70 people, of whom 80 per cent are addicted to alcohol and cannabis while the rest (20 per cent) are hooked to cocaine and heroin.
“As the years go on, the number of addicted people in our country continues to decrease” Mr Doo noted.
For his part, retired Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Mr Mohammed Mpinga who doubles as the former Traffic Police Commander and Mbeya Regional Police Commander (RPC) said the recent seizure of over three tonnes of illicit drugs implies that the country has heightened anti-drug operations rooted on rule of law and justice.
The retired RPC emphasised on education against drug abuse in every family because that is where many users come from.
“Youths who, in most cases are prone to the drug abuse, should stop, and close monitoring on their footstep is critical.The country should maintain the fights,” Mr Mpinga said.
To prevent illicit drug importation in the country, he said Tanzania should cooperate with neighbouring countries, regional communities including East Africa Community (EAC) and Southern Africa Development Authority (SADC) among other anti-drug international agencies.
He said intensive surveillance should continue in the drugs’ entry points, including ports, airports and roads as well as preventing production in the country.
On Wednesday, DCEA’s Commissioner General, Mr Lyimo announced good news to all anti-drug fighters as the results of the operations which kicked off from December 5 to 23 this year, where seven people, including two from Asia were arrested linked to the drugs.
He said the anti-drug operations were carried out in Dar es Salaam and Iringa regions, where a total of 2,180.29 kilogrammes of methamphetamine and 1001.71 kilogrammes of heroin were seized.
“This seizure involved a huge amount of illegal drugs. It is the first ever in the history of Tanzania, all the suspects arrested are from the major drug trafficking networks,” Mr Lyimo said.
He said if all the consignment of the seized illicit drugs would penetrate in different streets in the country and beyond could affect over 76 million people per day.