Cotonou — China ranks as ninth importer and fourth exporter country of Benin during the fourth quarter 2016, the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Analysis (INSAE) said in its quarterly review issued on Sunday.
During the considered period, China imported over 1,149 tons of goods valued 5.7 billion CFA Francs (9.2 million U.S. dollars) from Benin but exported 30,099 tons of goods valued 87 billion CFA Francs (141 million U.S. dollars) to the West African country.
Globally, Benin's exportations during the period amounted to 29.7 billion CFA Francs (48 million U.S. dollars) in quarter-to-quarter decrease of 29 percent compared to 42.3 billion CFA Francs (68.5 million U.S. dollars) in the third quarter 2016.
"It's an annual decrease of 60.6 percent compared to the same quarter the previous year," the quarterly review said.
Meanwhile, the total imports during the period under review amounts to 409 billion CFA Francs (661 million U.S. dollars) representing quarter-to-quarter increase of 25 percent compared to 320 billion CFA Francs (517 million U.S. dollars) in the third quarter 2016.
But it stands as 2.5 percent annual increase when compared to the importations during the fourth quarter 2015.
Two drug addicts are reported to have died of withdrawal symptoms in Mwanza Region after failing to get supplies in the wake of the nationwide anti-narcotics crackdown.
Withdrawal symptoms are the unpleasant physical reactions that accompany the process of ceasing to take an addictive drug.
The Commissioner General of the Drugs Control and Enforcement Commission (DCEC), Mr Rogers Sianga, said in an interview aired on Azam Television yesterday that he learnt of the deaths from Mwanza regional authorities, who suspected that the victims died as a result of sudden withdrawal from drug use.
"Many others have surrendered themselves at various hospitals, hoping to be provided with methadone, which is also in short supply in the region," he said.
Mwanza Regional Commissioner John Mongella confirmed the two deaths, adding that over 100 addicts had turned themselves in.
"I can confirm the death of two drug addicts, whose bodies were found at two different locations," he said.
Mwanza Regional Police Commander Ahmed Msangi told The Citizen by telephone that the bodies of two drug addicts were found in Nyamagana and Ilemela districts.
"They probably died after they were unable to get drugs following the sustained crackdown on narcotics. Drug peddlers have gone underground, and addicts now fear that conmen may sell them substances such as gypsum power, further aggravating their condition," he said.
The two deaths were reported at a time methadone is in short supply in most rehabilitation centres and public hospitals. Methadone is used as a substitute drug in the treatment of morphine and heroin addiction.
A survey by The Citizen in Dar es Salaam, Mwanza and Mbeya regions has established that the shortage of methadone has complicated efforts to have addicts of narcotic drugs, especially heroin, kick the habit.
Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda told Mwananchi newspaper that the region was facing an acute shortage of methadone following increased demand due to the ongoing clampdown.
"The five kilogrammes of methadone we ordered from Zanzibar have arrived, and we expect to distribute them to government hospitals in the region," he said.
Mr Mongella said Mwanza had a small amount of methadone as he left left duties outside the region, adding that he won't be surprised if he were told that it got finished.
He said the region was also facing a shortage of sober houses, making it difficult to accommodate people in need of rehabilitation.
Meanwhile, five addicts have turned themselves in at the Mbeya regional police headquarters in the last few days, according to the regional police boss, Mr Dhahiri Kidavashari.
He said the addicts were desperate and had asked the Police Force to help them after they were unable to get their regular fixes.
The five provided police with information which enabled them to arrest two suspected peddlers.
Medical Stores Department (MSD) spokesperson Etty Kusiluka told Mwananchi that methadone was not among medicines supplied by the entity, adding that MSD could only procure it after getting clearance from the government.
Mr Sianga told Azam Television that the Drugs Control and Enforcement Act of 2015 allowed the commission to arrest suspected addicts and question, examine and put them on treatment if necessary.
"If suspected users refuse to cooperate, they could be arraigned. They could also be jailed or put under supervision so that when they are reexamined no drug traces should be found in their samples," he said.
He added that the commission would not publicly name suspects, and would instead investigate them with a view to seeking information that would warrant their appearance in court.
The 10 major imported products valued 303.8 billion CFA Francs (491 million U.S. dollars) which represent 74 percent of the total importations.