A drug haul from a vessel sailing off the Tanzanian coast and the increasing national burden of cancer cases were dominant issues in newspapers published here this week. All mid-week dailies reported that Tanzania’s marine police hauled over 200 kilogrammes of narcotics, suspected to be heroin, and put into custody 12 foreigners who were found aboard the vessel.
“We are yet to know the suspects’ origin and their destination because they cannot express themselves in either English or Kiswahili,” said Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Mboje Kanga.
According to The Guardian, cases of drug trafficking have been on the rise in the past few years as Tanzania, apparently, turned into a destination rather than a transit country for the contraband.
In its report on the incident, The Citizen said the heroin haul was worth US$5.5 million and Tanzania’s war on drugs remains a daunting task.
“The heroin was found aboard an Iranian vessel. The arrest came just a few weeks after a Canadian military ship ‘Toronto’ impounded 265 bags of heroin weighing more than 280kgs aboard a vessel while patrolling the Indian Ocean,” the daily reported.
The Toronto was on patrol off the Tanzanian coast in the Indian Ocean as part of the multinational Operation ARTEMIS, a maritime security and counter-terrorism effort in the Middle East.
According to The Citizen, a special task force dealing with transnational organised crime in Tanzanian waters has arrested 12 suspects; eight of them with Iranian passports and four others had Pakistani travel documents.
The head of the Anti-Drugs Unit (ADU), Mr. Godfrey Nzowa, told the daily that the suspects were arrested in the wee hours of Tuesday on board an Iranian dhow, Aldahial, which was sailing between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar at the time.
Preliminary investigation by the police indicated that the vessel ferrying the drugs was registered in Kunak, Iran.
On its part, the government-owned Daily News reported that drug traffickers were coming up with new tricks to avoid detection at ports of entry, using books, shoes and tea bags to conceal illicit drugs.
Quoting Deputy Transport Minister Charles Tizeba, the paper reported that law enforcers at Dar es Salaam International Airport recently found biology textbooks which had been hollowed and stuffed with narcotics destined for Liberia.
“We will not allow our country to be a transit route for illicit drugs. As traffickers craft new means to avoid detection, we are also on the lookout for them,” Tizeba said.
Meanwhile, all Tanzanian dailies this week reported that statistics on the rise of cancerous diseases in the country were a cause for alarm to the population as at least 40,000 lives were lost each year due to cancer.
“The danger posed by cancer in Tanzania is real … and hence the need for early detection, diagnosis, treatment and most importantly, prevention,” Daily News said.
The paper suggested that cancer screening and treatment centres be set up at all district and regional government hospitals, while deliberate measures are taken to educate the public about the causes of cancer.
According to the daily, the Tanzanian government is planning to deploy at least 400 health experts for specialised training on cancer treatment “as an urgent national intervention necessitated by the rapid increase of cancer cases'.
A Kiswahili language daily, Mwananchi, reported on World Cancer Day this week, saying that tobacco smoking was the leading cause of cancer cases in Tanzania.
Tobacco is a major cash crop in the country. However, a survey by The Citizen has revealed that the crop was not only to blame for causing cancer but also for fuelling truancy in many schools located in tobacco growing areas.
According to the paper, truancy and dropouts in primary schools have been attributed to child labour on tobacco farms.
Commenting on health in general, The Guardian pointed out that there were “many things members of the public can do to keep themselves and their families healthy” and lessen the burden on public health facilities.
“We need to learn how to take greater and better care of ourselves, rather than depending on the government to do everything for us,” the paper suggested.