Nyagatare: Police in crackdown on motorcyclists trafficking drugs
Police in Nyagatare District have strengthened operations against motorcyclists involved in drug related crimes.
According to the District Police Commander, Senior Supt. Pierre Tebuka, motorcycles have become one of the easiest means of transport for drug traffickers in Nyagatare.
“Over the last three months we have impounded 132 motorcycles that were intercepted trafficking contrabands,” SSP Tebuka said.
“Some of these motorcycles are abandoned by owners while escaping arrest, but in other cases riders are pursued and arrested or are located and brought to justice after escaping initial arrest,” he added.
The crackdown, according to the DPC, is in line with the overall Rwanda National Police (RNP) strategy to break chains of drug supply.
“We understand that dealers also use cyclists to transport their substances from the borderlines with Uganda. There are also groups that call themselves Abarembetsi (spotters), who act as informers for drug dealers. All these groups are in the spotlight and the target in our day-to-day operations,” SSP Tebuka said.
Nyagatare is one of the areas that have been mapped out as a route for notorious drug traffickers.
Kanyanga, a crude gin and assorted illicit gins with different brand names such as chief waragi, zebra waragi, African gin, all packed in banned plastic bags, account for about 70 per cent of the drugs impounded.
“The sectors of Tabagwe, Rwempashya, Musheli, Kiyombe and Kagitumba, which border Uganda, have been mapped out as major routes, and this helps us during operations,” the DPC said.
Contrabands worth Rwf30 million have been seized in Nyagatare in the last five months. At least 135 drug traffickers including motorcyclists were arrested between July and August alone.
According to Daniel Ngarambe, the chairman for the federation of commercial motorcyclists in Rwanda—FERWACOTAMO—they have also “taken internal stringent measures” against their members implicated in “serious criminal activities.”
“Narcotic drugs pose serious concern to our country and to the young people in particular. So, it is official in the federation that no one will be entertained if caught is such criminal tendencies,” Ngarambe warned.
“There was barely any functioning cooperative when we took over; all motorcyclists were operating the way they wanted and that’s why some of them were hiding under this transport business to commit other crimes like trafficking drugs, facilitating dealers and thieves. We decided to start the registration of members afresh to have a database which can also help to trace a motorcycle implicated in criminal acts.”
The new database has only 19, 000 registered members (9, 000 in Kigali), out of about 60, 000 motorcyclists operating across the country.
“Before you become a member under the new procedures, there are set of internal rules that are read and signed, when you act contrary like involving in drug related crimes, smuggling, theft and defilement you automatically cease to be a member.”
According to Ngarambe, they recently dismissed two of their members; a motorcyclist in Rusizi District implicated in several cases of smuggling, and another in Kigali, who was snatching ladies bags and other belongings from people at night.
“Every commercial motorcyclist has to be registered in a certain cooperative as a government policy. We are working with various institutions including the Police to ensure that this is respected, and this way we will also be able to identify our members that are involved in lawlessness.”
The State Minister for Transport, Eng. Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye announced that all commercial motorcycles will by June next year be fitted with GPS to help in monitoring and control.