SMUGGLERS of marijuana and harder narcotic drugs such as cannabis sativa and heroin have pulled a new trick out of their hats - they now transport their contraband on motorcycles.
Some culprits have been seen in the border regions of Arusha and Mara. Smugglers of small packages of narcotic drugs find the two-wheel juggernauts appropriate because they snake through "panya routes" in the forests and cross the Tanzanian border into Kenya on terrain that confounds immigration officers and police operatives.
Only recently police seized two motorcycles carrying six gunny bags full of cannabis sativa on transit to Kenya. We are told that the riders simply ditched the bikes and disappeared into the bush. And the police had no answer to this smart escape.
Apart from being used to transport narcotic drugs the bikes are also convenient when it comes to pulling off fast robberies. It is no longer news that some bike riders now stop pedestrians and grab their bags or other property brandishing pistols or knives.
And this is not all - the bikes are also in the lead in causing fatal accidents especially in major cities and municipalities. Early last year the National Assembly was told that a total of 8,178 accidents had been caused by registered, passenger carrying motorcycles countrywide.
The accidents snuffed out the lives of 1,282 people. The Minister for Home Affairs, Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi, told a hushed House in Dodoma that Between January and December the motorcycles, many of which were substandard and rather too heavy, caused 5,763 deaths and left 5,532 people injured.
The city of Dar es Salaam had the largest share of the accidents at 2,479. Although motorbikes have been welcome as a cheap and more flexible form of transport, the price some passengers have already paid is outrageous - deaths or disabilities.
The minister called on the state to step in and stem the rot, but it is not clear what should exactly be done to save the situation. The minister said at that time more than 10,000 motorbikes were operating countrywide. This figure must have doubled now.
It is these bikes, many of which carry two or more passengers at a time, which have been exempted from business taxation simply because "they offer a livelihood to jobless youth." But, as fate would have it, it is these jobless youths who misuse the bikes.
At the moment, most of the riders do not hold any licences. Yet they handle motorbikes. This is a dangerous canker. Apart from the dangers bike riders pose to pedestrians and other road users, they also use the bikes to grab property and smuggle narcotic drugs. It is time someone slammed the brakes on this heart-rending dilemma.