Kenya: Lamu Leaders Decry Rising Poverty, Drugs, Alcohol Abuse

Leaders in Lamu have decried high poverty levels and poor socio-economic development that the county has witnessed saying this can be attributed to increased cases of alcohol and drug abuse especially in recent days.

Lamu Deputy Governor Abdulhakim Aboud, Lamu Woman Representative Ruweida Obbo and some MCAs said drug users have been giving residents across the county sleepless nights as they turn to stealing almost anything they can sell in order to get money to buy the substances.

Addressing residents in Lamu, the leaders said they have witnessed a new trend where drug users resort to desperate means of acquiring the drugs including stealing beehives from forests as well as robbing mosques, schools and homes.


Many have reported waking up to find their doors and windows missing, having been stolen and sold by the drug users.

Mr Aboud said they been forced to employ more security guards to man projects being undertaken by the county government in order to protect materials and equipment from being stolen by the drug users.

He said as a result of the use of hard drugs in the region, the cost of living has generally gone up.


“We have been installing street lights but once you leave them like that, you will find nothing since the addicts are now targeting those lamps, vandalising and selling them in order to get the drugs. We have been forced to spend extra money to employ more people to man such projects. Life has now been made expensive by these drug users,” said Mr Aboud.

Mrs Obbo said it is unfortunate that the drug users have also gone to the extent of stealing beehives from forests, solar panels from mosques and clothes from homes in order to fund their lifestyles.

Some people have been forced to employ guards to keep of the marauding thieves away from their homes.


“Drugs have destroyed our generation and impoverished our society. Drug users are stealing anything. Our economy is affected by the menace and we need urgent interventions to end this,” said Mrs Obbo.

A spot-check by the Nation revealed that Lamu East is the most affected by drug use with Pate, Tchundwa, Mbwajumwali, Myabogi and Kizingitini topping the list of areas with the most notorious drug dealers and users.

Mrs Fatuma Shekue from Pate Island got the fright of her life this week when she was accosted by two young men who robbed her of all accessories and valuables in broad daylight.


“I was going for a wedding and it was in the afternoon. These two young boys came out of nowhere and asked me to give them all I had including by wallet, watch, earrings, bangles and shoes. They almost made me take off my buibui since they thought it looked expensive and would fetch good money. It was terrible,” said Mrs Shekue.

Most of the affected villages in Lamu East do not have electricity connection yet and many people depend on solar energy.

Residents now say they are tired of replacing the solar panels and lights which are stolen almost on a daily basis especially from mosques and schools by the drugs users.


Mr Omar Shee of Kizingitini says people now live in fear of the drug users who are commonly referred to as “mateja” and who are known for stealing even garments from cloth lines which they sell to buy drugs.

“They steal clothes and food. They steal from farms. They will rob you of your shoes or just about anything which they can sell for those drugs. And if the worst comes to the worst, they will kill you to get what they want,” said Mr Shee.

He said many times people have woken up to find their windows and doors missing only to discover that they have been stolen by drug users who, by then, will already have sold them at throw away prices.

Many residents have also complained of increased crime rates in the villages and which are perpetrated by the drug users.


“Not a day goes by before you hear someone was attacked and injured using machetes or knives and whenever you follow up, it is always the drug users who are behind it. It is really getting out of hand. You can’t get into your house and leave your slippers or shoes at the door even for a second; they will be gone in a snap and you won’t even know who took them. We are always looking over our shoulders. It’s not a pleasant life that we live here,” said Ms Zulekha Arafat.

In Lamu Old Town, drug addicts have been reported to break water metres in order to extract a powder preservative used to prevent rusting and which they sniff to quench their insatiable thirst.


According to Lamu Water and Sewerage Company (Lawasco) Chairman Mohamed Athman, over 400 water metres in the town have so far been vandalised by the daring drug users.

The powder being sought by the addicts is normally put inside the metres to absorb moisture in order to keep them dry and rust-free.

He cited Langoni, Mkomani, Gadeni, Bajuri and Kashmir areas in the town as the most affected.

“The agent is sniffed and also taken by mouth, leaving an ecstatic feeling in the consumers. How the discovery came about we don’t know. All we know is that water meters here are now in danger as these addicts seek the preservative agents which they sniff through the nose and mouth. The trend is dangerously high and worrying,” said Mr Athman.


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Publish date : 2019-04-11 12:59:53

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