Increased incidents of bhang trafficking in Migori County have left everyone, including authorities, baffled
A week hardly passes without the police officers impounding huge consignments of the illegal drug.
According to records at Migori Central Police Station, some 4,000 kilos of the narcotic, have been seized in separate incidents in the last five months. The total street value of the impounded bhang runs into tens of millions of shillings.
The most recent incident happened last Sunday when Administration Police, acting on a tip off, impounded bhang worth Sh5 million at Bwembu in Suna West Sub-County.
But the police say they have also landed on an even more shocking development: The use of children, some as young as 10 years, to smuggle the bhang from Tanzania.
At the Sirare/Isebania border, children are given small luggage disguised as rice, maize or other food stuff to carry across the border. However, inside these lie rolls of bhang.
The minors deliver the consignments to peddlers waiting on the Kenyan side. The children are paid between Sh300-500 per consignment delivered, police sources indicate.
"Many children are dropping out of school to join the dirty trade for quick cash. More often than not, the customs officials and police do not suspect these children, allowing them to engage in the activity with ease," said a trader at Isebania town.
The first such incidence came to light last year, when a local high school student was arrested with dozens of kilos of bhang.
Migori County Children's officer John Odinya confirmed that the local children's office has received complaints of minors' involvement in the trade.
"We have received concerns that children have been sucked into the illegal trade of smuggling bhang. It is really unfortunate," said Mr Odinya.
Last week, one person was arrested in a maize plantation while watching over a bhang consignment, which was said to be destined for Mombasa. In the same week, the police say they impounded bhang worth Sh1.4 million.
Three weeks ago, police officers also seized bhang estimated to be worth Sh4 million in Nyatike and, in April, bhang worth Sh3 million was impounded in Migori town.
Migori Administration Police Commandant Julius Mukanda admitted that the menace has gone up at an alarming rate but was quick to add that the police officers have intensified the war against it.
"These cases are clearly on the rise but the fact that the police often impound the bhang hauls and arrest the peddlers shows that we have doubled our efforts to stop the trade.