THE COASTAL DRUG MENACE

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Drug abuse is a societal panacea that continues to lampoon most African states’ cultural ethics. However in Kenya and most especially along the shores of the country’s coast. The issue is one that is orchestrated without scruple whatsoever, nor an ounce of guilt conscience.

What baffles the lips of our motherland most is that majority of victims are actually youth. With their ages ranging between 12- 25. A brief sojourn along Mombasa’s and other coastal towns shall ostensibly depict it all. Youths from the tender age of 12 are staunch users and peddlers of drugs, bhang is usually the starter drug before graduation to the hard drugs. The manner in which a little class 7 boy could possibly chimney gasp bhang  smoke from their mouths will baffle you.

Drugs including heroine, cocaine and bhang are readily available in the aforementioned area, with over 300 “maskanis” existing, from where users obtain and share their stuff on a daily routine like basis.

The 2018 Army recruitment exercise exposed the gruesome underbelly on the impact of substance abuse in the county as the recruiting officers were able to find a handful of youths who met the recruitment requirements. Most youths in the area were underweight with lifestyle maladies including inconsistent blood pressures, respiratory defects, brown teeth amongst other physical defects associated with drugs.

The underweight potential officers were most if not all returned back to the safety of their homes, with Army bosses deeming the lads unfit for the routine rigorous training the army administers on recruits.Many youths took it the wrong way claiming the exercise was discriminatory against them with their marginalization narrative.

A research carried out by health practitioners afterwards attributed the underweight nature of the boys to Khat usage. With ‘Muguka’ allegedly leading way on matters consumption by the youth in question.

The findings of the Report agitated the government with the help of The National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) to issue a  ban on the consumption of Muguka in coastal areas including Likoni, Ujamaa area across ferry and some areas of Mombasa mainland. Khat alias Miraa is legal in the country, a factor that convincingly makes the abuse of the drug on the rise worldwide. Not only in coastal Kenya.

Statistically and as per UNODC data, there are an estimated 680,000 to 2.9 million opium users in Africa. In Kenyan Coast alone, opium use holds a rough percentage of 0.7. Majority of the hard drug consumers within the age bracket of 15 – 64 years.

The prevalence of cannabis usage amongst citizenry falling in the aforementioned cohort is at 7.1%. Another similar retrospective survey shows that by age 15 in the Kenyan Coast, 34 % of individuals falling in the same age group (15 – 64 years) had directly abused tobacco, 18% cannabis sativa, 32% khat (miraa) and 5% cocaine.

The Kenyan Coast has become a major fallback for drug dealers in the recent past, highly attributing the above cradle to increased control of traditional routes through Holland and Spain. It comes as no news the numerous times hard drugs have suffered major crackdowns in the recent past.

The don’t care ambiance in Mombasa county puts everything at stake and jeopardy. Nobody really seems to care. Political leaders are in fact harboring the drug menace within the area instead of coming up with  possible mechanisms of eradicating the plague. Most of top county delegates have directly been involved not once in drug trafficking, peddling and baroning. Drug money runs the luxurious hotel industry and politics, the barons decide who wins and who gets what and when.

Young adults do not complete secondary school . Don’t get employed. Don’t even get married for they view the above as insignificant and unrewarding. Drug and substance abuse within shores of the Coastal area has actually pushed tender lives to oblivion, leaving youths devoid of dreams, visions and ambitions.

Theirs is a resort to live only for the day, thinking not of what their future holds.Health cabinet secretary, Cecily Kariuki needs to spring up robust measures to change things on matters drugs in the area. For as things stand, the future of Mombasa and the entire coastal strip is all but dead.

Non governmental organisations have assisted NACADA have pulled out quite a show, significantly running multiple programmes to educate the vulnerable young adults. Albeit all their constructive efforts, all is still not well. More has to be done.

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