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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

JAIL DRUG TRAFFICKERS, BUT TREAT THE ADDICTS



Figures for Tanzania are not readily available, but reports show that scores of our people die annually from afflictions associated with drug abuse, which is estimated to kill at least 200,000 globally every year.

Hardly a day passes without a news story related to illicit drugs--consignment seizure, a court case or convictions. Our airports did, in the recent past, gain notoriety as major conduits for international drug trafficking.

It is our hope that the fall in drug-related arrests at airports means that our narcotics unit's efforts have scared away the traffickers. However, drug abuse is still rife in our country, for even a casual observer will note it. The conduct of touts at daladala bus stops and the suicidal manners with which motorcycle taxi riders handle their machines indicate we have legions of our young under the influence.

Stories of local artistes whose erstwhile promising careers have been ruined, thanks to drug abuse, are common. Drug abuse and trade in the same are increasingly evolving into a national problem, which needs innovative methods to eradicate.

It must be tackled from two fronts--one, that of supply and two, that of the users. If we manage to stamp out the supply end, that of users--most of whom are our youth on whose intellectual and physical energies the country pegs its future--the scourge will in due course become history.

Yes, there is a great need to tackle head-on drug dealers bent on getting rich at the expense of our young. It is ironical that dug users, who are victims in the illicit drugs chain, are mostly the ones who end up in prison while their suppliers, who are the actual culprits, remain free to ensnare more users.

Parole Board chairman Augustine Mrema's call for more efforts in rehabiliting rather than punishing drugs addicts, who are actually the victims, should be heeded.

CLEANLINESS EDUCATION VITAL

"We must run while they walk". This is one of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere's most memorable quotes, which remains quite relevant today, but shamefully, its importance is not satisfactorily appreciated, even as we purport to revere the Father of the Nation.

Cleanliness--more in its disregard than observance--is one of the illustrative cases. While some nations are focusing on scientific feats like space exploration, many of us pay little, if anything, attention to environmental cleanliness.

This hygienic imperative should be effected as a matter of course, yet in our case, it has become something that requires government intervention.

The last Saturday of every month has been declared Cleanliness Day, an outcome of President Magufuli's initiative. Beyond Mwalimu's leadership, and four presidents down the line, the latest should --as he is commendably doing--be focusing on weighty issues like economic development.

Iringa Municipal Council's decision to impose a Sh50,000 fine on individuals who don't participate in the monthly collective cleanliness undertaking is simultaneously commendable and embarrassing.

The Iringa approach may be emulated elsewhere. It may help, but it is a big embarrassment that may be at best be avoided and at worst, eased, by an urgent sensitisation campaign on civic responsibility.

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