Smoking a roll of bhang (cannabis) in Kisii town is almost becoming a norm like it is in the case of cigarettes. It has practically become easier to get a roll of bhang than a cigarette.
Street children smoke it anywhere and don’t worry about being arrested; they are a law unto themselves along some major roads and backstreets.
Just behind the Kisii main bus park at Makutano junction, more than 200 urchins have made the place their abode. Here, they eat, smoke and sleep freely. They gather here during the day eating from the waste bin that is strategically placed in the area. At night they light a bonfire as they go about their business of selling bhang.
The number of street children has increased after those operating from the dumping site in Kisii town moved to the CBD following the County Government’s decision to close the site.
Majority of bhang users are the smartly dressed women synonymous with the active ‘partying industry’ in the town, university and college students, the mama mbogas at the fresh vegetable market in CBD and even those in the formal sector who report to work every morning, as well as a section of boda boda operators.
For Peter Onchiri, 26, the sale of bhang (Cannabis) in Kisii town has been his trade for the past five years, moving from one street to the other, delivering the much sought-after drug among the youth.
Onchiri grew up in Egesa area along the Kisii-Kisumu highway. He dropped out of school while in Class Seven, and at 15, he moved out of his home and began hawking polythene papers along the streets of Kisii town.
In 2017, the government banned the production and sale of plastic bags, forcing Onchiri to rethink his business strategy.
“I was introduced to the bhang peddling business and usage at a tender age. All we could do was sell it in small portions to a few users. Today, nearly all street children are into the business, and the market is flooded.”
Blame users, not peddlers
He says, much as the authorities accuse the street children of peddling drugs, the end users should also be blamed. “Most of our clients are women either working or in college. We even do home deliveries on weekends, particularly on Sunday morning.”
However, the father of two declined to reveal the source of bhang sold in the town. “It is not like there is only one person who sells in bulk, we have several people who have joined the business.”
The street children are contracted to sell the illegal drug at a commission. They sell it in rolls that go up to Sh200, depending on the size.
Our source says that on a good day, each urchin can do returns of up to Sh2,000, but the figure could go higher on weekends.
Julius Ombui* 30 has bought two motorcycles from the trade which he began in 2015.
Ombui also declined to reveal his source. “We have had increased users of bhang in the town in the last five years. During the Covid-19 curfew, we did home deliveries to various houses in the town. The demand is quite high.”
He said police have tried to arrest some of the peddlers in vain.
Kisii Central Sub County Police Commander Amos Ambasa said they received intelligence that the dealers were now targeting students as they expand the market for the illegal herb.
On February 1, Ambasa led a raid where they recovered bhang at a den in Masosa area with an estimated value of Sh100,000.
Kisii Governor Simba Arati said some dealers are working with police officers to sell the drug.
“I will work closely with the police to ensure this comes to an end. We will not sit and watch as we lose a whole generation. This is even affecting family ties.”