Poisonous substance purported to be sugar has claimed three lives and left four others hospitalized following its consumption in Kambia District, Northern Sierra Leone over the weekend.
According to one Sulaiman Dumbuya in Kambia during a telephone interview on Monday 20th December 2010 over the weekend, a white substance thought to be sugar was alleged to have been stolen from the CSE Construction Company in Kambia by some unknown criminals. This white substance was subsequently circulated in the local markets in Kambia for sale. He said the substance is highly poisonous but it is difficult for one to distinguish it from sugar as all its features in terms of color, taste, size and texture are the same.
According to Suliaman, the poisonous substance has flooded the market for the past three days with a very high demand because of its relative cheapness to that of sugar. He said the three people who are reported to have died are from Rokupr Town while those hospitalized are from near by villages.
The sugar-like substance reports say is a mixture used in road construction but was alleged to have been stolen by ill-motivated CSE workers and put in the market to make money in the name of sugar.
However reports say though police in Kambia are doing all they can to withdraw the circulation of the said substance from the market, some unscrupulous traders are engaged in the practice of mixing the harmful substance with the real sugar, a situation that further threatens the lives of poor and innocent citizens.
When contacted, the Field Coordinator for the Sierra Leone Consumer Protection Agency Mr. Ernest Kailli confirmed the agency was strongly working with the police on this issue.