A long distance truck driver has been arrested for allegedly transporting bags of bhang along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway in Taita-Taveta County.
According to the police, the consignment with a street value of about Sh 500,000 could have originated from Uganda through Sirare area in Migori County.
Voi OCPD Joseph Chesire confirmed and said traffic base police officers intercepted the lorry carrying the stuff at Ndara area near Maungu Township and on inspecting it found 2,140 sticks of bhang stuffed in two gunny bags destined for Mombasa City.
“We are still investigating the incident and we suspect that the consignment could have originated from the neighbouring country. The lorry has been detained at the Voi Police Station and the suspect will be taken to court once investigations are complete,” said the police officer.
Other intelligence sources however said the suspect could have picked the consignment at Makutano junction along the highway.
“The police officers were on their normal patrol when they intercepted the lorry traveling towards Mombasa direction. The driver who is in our custody is helping us with investigations,” Mr Chesire told the press after the arrest on Sunday.
The police officer said police have intensified crackdown on drug dealers who had been using the busy highway as their conduit point for transporting hard drugs among other illegal items.
This comes as the county is ranked among the counties in alcohol, drug and substance abuse in Coast region.
According to the National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) senior officials, the county is ranked third from Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa Counties in alcohol and drug abuse cases.
Without giving out figures, NACADA chairman, Board of Directors Lt. Col (Rtd) Julius Ayub Githiri disclosed in a recent interview that most of the drugs are originating from the neighbouring country through the porous Kenya-Tanzania border in Taveta Sub County.
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He noted the most abused drugs that find their way into the county include heroin and bhang among other cheap brews.
“The situation is very complex because the county is closer to the Kenya-Tanzania border and Mombasa which serve as conduit points. Collaborative measures must be put in place at all levels of government to eradicate the vice,” said Col Githiri.
Addressing hundreds of county youth in Mwatate town during a sensitization workshop on the danger of drugs and alcohol, the official described the porous border, Nairobi-Mombasa highway and the Voi-Mwatate-Taveta international highway as the most notorious conduit points for hard core drug transportation among other contrabands.
The youth were drawn from Taveta, Voi, Mwatate and Taita sub counties.
Recently, Taveta Senior Resident Magistrate Benson Khapoya led the Judiciary and security agencies in destroying bhang worth over Sh1 million.
Also destroyed was cheap liquor from the neighbouirng country including 31 gambling machines confiscated from local traders.
According to the police, the cannabis sativa was impounded at Salaita along the Taveta-Mwatate road and was believed to have originated from Tanzania in 2016.
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Taveta OCPD Francis Warui said the owner of the bhang had been fined Sh1 million or serves 15 years imprisonment in default. The probox that was used to transport the staff was forfeited by the State, confirmed the police officer.
Briefing the press at his Taveta officer, Mr Warui said 44 beer crates, 105 cheap spirits and 17 pieces assorted wines from Tanzania were also destroyed at the local police station.
He said unscrupulous traders had been using the porous border to smuggle contraband goods while others had been evading paying taxes.
The destruction of the bhang comes at a time the government is still grappling with infiltration of counterfeit goods in the country.
The government is also grappling with illicit brews like Chang’aa, including methanol originating from Tanzania.
Police and Interior and Coordination officials said the porous borders have been a major conduit point for smugglers and drug traffickers.