Codeine is a narcotic medicine widely used to relieve mild to moderate pain and has harmful effects when consumed in large quantities.
Several bus drivers in Lusaka have admitted to abusing the cough mixture which they buy over the counter and they have termed it as ‘Nyelele’ as it cannot be detected by Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) breathalysers.
According to a pharmacist, benylin with codeine is highly addictive and could lead to memory loss and liver damage if taken in excess.
The drivers interviews revealed that they had resorted to taking the medicine in place of alcohol to avoid being detected by RTSA breathalysers.
“We don’t have to take Tujilili anymore, we just take benylin codeine and we are home and dry,” one driver said.
“We get drunk as if we have taken alcohol and there is no risk of being arrested by RTSA officers because the breathalysers cannot detect it.”
RTSA spokesperson Mercy Mwila, who confirmed that the Agency was aware of drivers’ abuse of the cough mixture, said RTSA was working out measures that would detect it and bring the culprits to book.
Ms Mwila admitted that the breathalysers the Agency was using could not detect benylin with codeine.