A proposed anti-narcotics law has sparked disquiet among drug dealers in Coast even as leaders from the region rally behind it.
The Narcotics, Drug and Psychotropic Substance Control (Amendment) Bill, which, if passed, will help untangle the region from the stranglehold of a menace that has gripped it for decades, has attracted threats from drug barons, a section of Coast leaders claim.
"Some of us [have received] threats, but we shall not be cowed. We want to ensure its passage so that we can save our young people from the claws of drug abuse," Nyali MP Mohamed Ali.
"Now is the time to go for the barons. We want a law that will allow their communications intercepted while gathering evidence. The guilty will pay high fines," he said.
The current law, which proposes that culprits be fined up to Sh1 million or three times the worth of the drugs, is lenient and affords drug barons the luxury to continue with their business, he added.
Proceeds of crime
"These people have mansions here at the Coast, and they have invested in offshore accounts, but this time we want to ensure that we have them by their necks. We will ensure their properties are seized and the proceeds of crime are returned," he said.
The Bill before the National Assembly Committee on Administration and National Security seeks to fine drug traffickers fines of between Sh50 million and Sh100 million.
A person who is outside Kenya and conspires with another person who is in the country will be liable to a conviction and a fine of not less than Sh100 million and life imprisonment. The person will be deemed to have committed the offence in Kenya.
"Where the person is in possession of 101 grammes or more, to a fine of not less than Sh50 million or three times the market value of narcotic drug or psychotropic substance and imprisonment for life," reads the Bill.
Liable to a conviction
Enforcement officers, who will aid or abet any offence including colluding with drug dealers, will be fined up to Sh20 million or jailed for a term not less than 20 years.
It is understood that the Bill has President Kenyatta's support.
Political and religious leaders from the Coast have also backed the Bill.
Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir said it will save thousands of youth who have been affected by the narcotics trade.
"Leaders who are against a drug dealer being given a harsh penalty must explain their reasons," he said, adding, enough lobbying has been done in Mombasa with organisations' support for the Bill.
Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) Organising Secretary Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa said the stiffer penalties will likely reduce the supply of drugs especially in the Coast region.
He urged MPs to ensure that the Bill doesn't face any opposition so as "to save our children".
He asked the Judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to join hands in the fight against the illicit business.
"There is a need for our government agencies to work together against drug dealers. These people have ruined entire generations. They live lavish lives while our youth suffer. We need this Bill to be passed as early as this year," he said.
It is understood that it could be passed before the end of the year.