Drug smuggling in Uganda, how has it impacted the people of Uganda
Drugs are being transited through Uganda to Europe and United States. Drug trafficking and abuse has risen in many countries and Uganda has been one of the countries that have been affected by drug trafficking. Drugs are smuggled by both sea and air. Traffickers go to Karachi, Pakistan, Afghanistan to ship drugs in to East Africa and later transported to other countries.
Drug smuggling through East Africa has had an impact on the people. They have been reported as victims of a global heroin trade by the drug experts. According to experts, heroin and a lot of drugs are penetrating Africa. The United Nations Office of drugs and crime has reported an increase in the number of heroin seized in Kenya in the last five years. A lot of drugs are argued to be in transit to Europe but unknown amount of it is said to stay in the country and sold to locals. Although there has been a big number of drug seizure in the country, not strong convictions have been given to those who were caught using or smuggling drugs.
According to United Nations Office Drug report, drug trafficking through West Africa is known to have started in 2004. Drug trafficking through East Africa from Pakistan via Kenya shores through to Uganda to the rest of other countries is said to have started in 2007. Trafficking through West Africa was argued to have increased rapidly between 2004 until 2007 but was later reported to have fallen between 2008 to 2009. The World Drug Report estimates the number of drug users in the past year aged between 15-64 in Africa, specifically East Africa as Cannabis users 9,190,000, Opiate 1,730,000 but Cocaine and other drugs could not be calculated. The United Nations Office Drug commented on the lack of information in some countries limiting the understanding of drug problem. If people do not understand the problem, it could have a big impact to them as they do not know to what extent it could affect them. Drug treatment is so limited in Africa (Uganda), the fact that people may not understand it as a problem but a responsibility that people put on themselves and so they have to deal with it.
The increase in the drug smuggling through Uganda has been pinpointed to the lack of strong laws governing drug use in the country. The Ugandan government is said to have strengthened the law on drugs in 2003 unfortunately, the laws have failed. Leaders have been corrupted by drug traffickers hence turning a blind eye on what is going on. The authorities in most cases know about the deals made by the drug dealers, they know about the drugs coming in or being sold on the streets but they are given money to keep quiet about it. Even when the dealers are arrested, they may get out of prison within a day. They pay the authorities, the police, the judges or anyone involved in the case which makes it an easy target to transit drugs through East Africa. There haven’t been strict convictions to drug dealers as they to be realised and continue with their businesses.
Drug trafficking could strongly have an impact on the country's stability. With a lot of corruption and bribes being taken by the leaders in the drug industry, the impact of drug trafficking may turn into a very dirty game. Authorities take what they can to sustain their living, they turn a blind eye like nothing is happening. In other cases for example the Guinea-Bissau, the Prime Minister was detained and threatened by soldiers so that the chief of staff of military could be removed. The man behind this ordeal was accused of drug trafficking but assumed a role of deputy chief for the country. Drug trafficking may affect the country's political stability, if you find yourself on the wrong side of the deal it might lead to violence or death. The impact of drug trafficking on transit countries may pose a threat, those dealing in drugs possess more power and status in the community. Drug trafficking in Africa is seen to be growing more rapidly compared to years ago. Drugs have been seized in different countries of Africa and in some cases people have been stopped and detained on airports carrying (trafficking) drugs to other countries.
Police in Gambia seized two tonnes of cocaine worth an estimated US $1 Billion, this seizure made Gambia the biggest drug bust in Africa. Gambia drug trafficking was blamed on the poor coastal and boarder controls in addition to the corruption in the country. In positions where boarder controls are weak or unmonitored, this presents a big opportunity for drug smugglers to use as an easy route to other destinations. With drugs being smuggled through Kenyan Shores, cocaine kings from South America are reported to have targeted Kenya as their base for drug operation. Making Kenya a base could affect the Country dramatically and the countries around it. Although dealing in drugs might be a source of income to those involved, the drug money cannot be accounted on the country's source of income. The money usually goes back to drug dealers.
Uganda is faced with a lot of poverty, one of the poorest countries in the world where people will do anything to earn a living. It is a battle of survival of the fittest. The people themselves have actually got involved with drug dealers to be couriers, earn quick and easy cash for a living. Drug trafficking in Uganda is now being seen and embraced by those involved as a job opportunity, an easy way to get money. Drug trafficking has been discussed on the grounds of poverty, corruption and geographical features of the country. Leaders take bribes, local people will do anything to get money and the lack of strong laws regarding drugs makes Uganda an easy target to drug traffickers as a transit.
I personally didn’t know there was drug trafficking in Uganda. I spoke to my family and most of them argued they have never heard anything regarding drugs in Uganda. Having done a lot of research and reading, I realise there are issues that haven’t been raised by Ugandan government. Not a lot of information about drug trafficking or drug use is raised. The information is only available to those involved and cannot be discussed publically. I have shown my family and friends about my findings and they have been shocked, they argued and commented on the lack of awareness of the issue and corruption involved contributing to drug smuggling. The lack of awareness to this issue might be the fact of shame, guilty and maybe a lot of leaders being involved in drug deals and do not want to be exposed. People who take drugs in Uganda are stereotyped, not people to be friends with but known to bring shame to their families hence living it as a private issue in.