Dodoma — DRUG abuse and trafficking in the country has increased with the number of people using syringes in Dar es Salaam alone reaching a record 15,000, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (Policy, Co-ordination and Parliamentary Affairs), Mr William Lukuvi has said.
Briefing reporters on the current trend, Mr Lukuvi said that research conducted in 2011 showed that drug abuse has become rampant with a number of users being at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. He said that from the research, it was found that 51.7 per cent of drug users who use syringes were found to be HIV positive, compelling the government to intensify efforts in fighting the vice.
Despite government efforts to end the social ill, Mr Lukuvi observed that the country does not have laws that would frustrate drug dealers, noting that his ministry plans to table a bill in Parliament seeking to strengthen the war against drug abuse."The existing laws are too weak to address the problem considering that the business is profitable, we need to have laws that would impose stern punishments and to do away with fining people selling drugs," Mr Lukuvi said.
He added that a kilogramme of cocaine is sold at 45m/- and heroin fetches 40m/- in the Tanzania market, while in South Africa the prices double and in the United States they triple.The minister also said that amount of cocaine seized has also increased from 63 kilogrammes in 2010 to 126 in 2011, an increase of 100 per cent, which shows that counter-narcotics agencies have become more vigilant.
From the drugs that were seized last year, Mr Lukuvi said, it shows that drug trafficking has also increased in the country, adding that the amount of cocaine and heroin seized in 2011 was ten times that was seized in the past 10 years."For instance, in 2001 alone a total of 412 suspects were arrested with 8 kilogrammes of cocaine compared to 20 suspects arrested in 2011 with 264 kilogrammes of cocaine," Mr Lukuvi noted.
He further said that in 2010, a total of 185.8 kilogrammes of cocaine was seized and 15 suspects were arrested.He added data shows that heroin that has been seized has increased by 42 per cent.The minister said that the government also plans to establish an independent body that would have the powers to investigate and arrest drug dealers and users.
"A counter-narcotics unit which is under my office is toothless, we are thinking of having a powerful organ that would be capacitated to enable it intensify the fight," Mr Lukuvi said.Mr Lukuvi also said that it is difficult to win the fight against drug abuse and drug dealing with help from the general public.