Govt loses over Rwf7bn to drug abuse

Police and government officials burn drugs recently. The government uses over Rwf7 billion annually on fighting and treating drug abuse. Emmanuel Kwizera.

The Government uses over Rwf7 billion annually rehabilitating drug addicts, treatment of those affected by drugs and hunting drug dealers and consumers, according to officials.

The figures were presented this week at Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village during a week-long campaign to fight drug abuse that concludes today with the annual national thanksgiving crusade commonly known as ‘Rwanda Shima Imana’, which will be held at sector level country wide.

The campaign gathers faith-based organizations, decision makers, civil societies, youth and many others.

The State Minister for Public and Primary Healthcare, Dr Patrick Ndimubanzi, said that the money spent fighting drug abuse could be being used for other development projects.

“Drug abuse affects both our health and economy. It affects the individual’sand family income and national development in general. It destroys the family and increases poverty, it affects children and youth’s education. It requires joint efforts to fight drug abuse by providing timely reports on the drug dealers and consumers so as to eradicate the vice,” he said.

The Rwf7 billion is spent on Iwawa rehabilitation Centre, reintegration, treating those affected in terms of health, treating teenagers raped by drug addicts.

Iwawa Rehabilitation Centre currently accommodates over 4,000 youth and targets to accommodate 6,000 next year.

Figures reveal that over 20 per cent of prisoners in Mageragere prison are there because of drug-related crimes.

At the National Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Ndera, over 440 patients with mental disorders were related to drug abuse in 2009 which rose to 2,804 in 2016.

According to police figures, 4,149 people were arrested in drug related crimes last year, with over 71 per cent of them aged between 18 and 35 years.At least 48 drug dealers who were arrested last year were aged below 18 years.

In the last five years, Police recorded 18,383 cases related to narcotic drugs.

Bishop Alex Birindabagabo, the chairperson of the council of faith-based organisations, church leaders and civil societies which was formed this year to help in fighting drug abuse, reiterated that their joint efforts with the National Task Force for Drugs Education composed of six ministries and other institutions will lead to tangible results in fighting drug abuse.

“The drug dealers must be arrested since most of them are known. We should treat those affected but the best focus should be tracking the origin of such drugs and eradicating them,” he said.

According to the new law on drug abuse, dealers in hard drugswill be sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of over between Rwf20 million and Rwf30 million.

In article 263, the new penal code says that any person who, unlawfully produces, transforms, transports, stores, gives to another or sells narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances commits an offence.