Lamu narcotic users accuse the county government of neglecting them

Khadija Shebwana a narcotic addict from Lamu PHOTO NATASHA NEMA

Lamu,KENYA:Drug users in Lamu county have accused the county government for refusing to help them quit the habit.

They said the county government hadn’t put in place any measures or facilities to enable them embark on the rehabilitation journey despite the fact that many of them were willing to start a new life free of drugs.

Speaking in Lamu town on Thursday,the drug users accused some county officials of playing mind games with their misery by having them sign up for rehab but later disappear and leave them still hooked to drugs.

Led by Khadija Shebwana,the drug users said they were concerned that people were now taking advantage of their plight for rehab and using them for their individual gains.

They are also appealing to have an audience with Lamu governor Fahim Twaha so they can tell him their woes and chart a way forward.

“I have been on drugs for over ten years now.I began after my parents divorced leaving me to myself.I really wish to stop this habit if someone holds my hand.The county government has thrown our plight to the wind.They come,make us write down our names and that’s its it,they just disappear.The governor should know we are equally residents of this county which he heads and we need his help,”said Khadija.

Another drug user Ali Islam called on the county government to emulate other counties out there and establish rehab centres to help willing users quit the habit.

He said many users in Lamu are willing to quit but are shortchanged by county officers who show no interest in helping them do so.

“We have heard there are plans to set up a rehab centre in Hindi for years now but nothing happens.Users in other counties like Malindi and Kwale are lucky they have centres where they have been put on Methadone treatment to help them quit.We need the same here but all we get are fake promises,”said Islam.

Lamu county deputy governor Abdulhakim Aboiud however denied that the county had turned a blind eye on the plight of drug users in Lamu.

He said through The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime-UNODC,the county had already made strides in the establishment of a special unit at the Lamu King Fahad Hospital to help drug addicts recover.

He said the unit was at a 50% completion rate and that the required staff had already been identified and trained in readiness for its official launch soon.

“We have already listed a number of willing drug users who want to be rehabilitated and together with UNODC we have set up a unit at the King Fahad hospital where we will admit and rehabilitate drug users.The unit is 50% complete.The officers who will work there have already been trained and shall commence work really soon,”said Aboud.