Recently Tana River has been exposed to a growing problem- underage boys and girls engaging in use of drugs and alcohol.
Hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin and marijuana find its way to Tana River especially in Garsen, Hola, Kipini, Bura, Madogo and Mororo.
The drugs are smuggled into the county mostly through Malindi-Garsen from Kilifi County despite the fact that there are three police barriers at Sabaki bridge, Vibaoviwili and Minjila. Highway traffic police officers sometimes mount prontu road block just past Malindi, the same applies to Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) at Sabaki, Kanagoni, Tarassaa Junction and Minjila alsi Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) sometimes put their road block at Tarassaa Junction.
Unfortunately, all the police check road blocks put by our security agencies have been unable to nab any drug peddlers smuggling drugs into our county.
In Kipini, the ‘area of abuse’ of the illegal drugs is Muini especially at the beach (Cocaine, heroin and Marijuana), Bakiarafa, Matangeni and Ziwani (Marijuana).
In Garsen the drugs are peddled even at the bus stage and mostly abused in the cheap-local alcohol dens.
In Hola, Mikiki and Laza Miembeni serve as safe havens for Marijuana smokers.
In Madogo majority of youths use Khat with tablet popular know as taptap and Marijuana.
In Mororo place known as California where there is a prostitute brothrel, all kinds of drugs are abused.
Given the current economic situation, most of the idle youth spend most part of their day smoking marijuana, chewing Khat and Mogakaa, and drinking local made and cheap alcohol such as Mnazi, Mkoma, Mkidu, Makole, Kangara, Ipelekwe, Matingasi etc which some of them are sold as low as 10 bob Kenya shilling. For those who are at least working normally join the other in the evening.
School going children are now abusing the drugs. Immediately after classes pupils use their saved pocket money to buy Khat or Mogoka and chew the whole night. The same pupil is expected to attend classes next day.
Some pupils go to school with Marijuana, smoke during morning and lunch time break
Here are some of the reasons why I believe cause the rise drugs abuse among the youth in the county.
• Peer pressure. They are now influenced by their friends.
• Parents are not supervising their children. Parents are busy working, doing business or farming.
• Easy accessibility to drugs. Drugs like bhang are very accessible to the young People.
• Lack of role models in society. Nowadays role models for teenagers and young adults exalt the use of alcohol and drugs which in turn make it look “cool”.
• Social media. Teenagers with mobile phones have easy access to new forms of media that exalts the use of alcohol and drugs.
• The security agencies not taking the issue serious.
The drugs abuse in Tana River has caused crime (stealing) cases to rise, poor performance in schools, school dropout and teens pregnancy rates is alarming. We cannot sit back and see drugs ruin the lives of our youths while we do nothing about it.
Parents should bond with their children and spend time together and shape their behaviour by helping them understand the positive consequences of good behaviour and negative consequences of bad behaviour.
The government should set NACADA and Anti-narcotic police unit (ANU) offices in the county and to help control the manace, in the meantime security agencies should up their game.