The government of Kenya has launched a 30-day fight against illicit brews and narcotics., the initiative comes a month after 10 people lost their lives after consuming illicit alcohol in Bahati, Nakuru county.
The popularity of this brew has been growing and is religiously passed down from one generation to the next. The substrates, preparation process and additives used in making it are unhygienic and toxic and has sparked health hazard and several deaths.
The outlawed liquor influenced Kwale County Commissioner (CC) Gideon Nyandiricha Oyagi to direct the security agencies to deal firmly with the sale and consumption of substandard and counterfeit drinks in the region. He said the RRI programme will also create awareness on the manufacture, sale, and consumption of unauthorized alcohol.
Moreover, the initiative will focus more on identifying business personnel who have been faulting the regulations set by the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) and other regulatory agencies. The CC said the program will bring on board significant stakeholders like the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and ensure all bars and liquor centres are fully complying with the set regulations.
The kwale country commissioner initiative contributed in creating a significant joint battle with Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho who launched the 30 days fight programme which labelled a Rapid Response Initiative in Thika on Wednesday. The illicit brews have claimed the lives of over 30,000 Kenyans, mostly the youths. Kibicho pointed an accusing finger at brewers for the prevalence of the menace, especially in Central Kenya, warning that the government is determined to deal with vice.
Kibicho noted that since the launch of RRI by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2015, local administrators have managed to impound over one trillion litres of brews, “more than the capacity of Ndakaini dam.” “This national initiative will be taken seriously because of the harmful effects the illicit brews have on our country. We will deal with them decisively,” Kibicho said.
Kibicho was accompanied by Kiambu deputy governor Joyce Ngugi, National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse board chairperson Prof Mabel Imbuga, Thika Town MP Patrick Wainaina and other top administrators from Murang’a, Nyeri, Nyandarua and Kirinyaga.
The event saw a cache of outlawed brews, counterfeit liquor, substandard alcohol, bhang, drugs, and slot machines nabbed by local administrators from the five counties. The cache was later destroyed. The 30-day exercise led by multi-agency teams is expected to eliminate substandard and counterfeit alcoholic drinks.
The PS noted that the government will be keen on wiping out all raw materials that are used to produce the outlawed brews stating that the fight will be to end the menace from the source.
Kibicho, who faulted county governments for irregularly licensing bars thereby facilitating its abuse, urged Parliament to review licensing guidelines to return standardization of alcohol to the national government.
Deputy governor Joyce Ngugi called for concerted efforts in fighting the vice, which she said continues to destroy lives.
“Excessive consumption of the illegal brews has rendered our youths unproductive, increased domestic and gender-based violence, augmented suicide and murders witnessed all over the country and contributed to cases of mental illnesses,” she said.
Her sentiments were echoed by Wainaina who blamed high consumption of outlawed substances in Thika to the proliferation of tertiary institutions that provide a ready market for the brewers and peddlers.
While praising the government for launching the initiative in Thika, Wainaina called for beefing up of security in Thika East following a spate of attacks by unknown people.
“Even as we fight alcohol, bhang and other illicit items, I urge the ministry to help us end crime in Thika East where insecurity is the order of the day,” he said.
Nacada boss Imbuga called for proper parenting and sensitization of children against drug abuse. She stated during her interview with The Star Kenya that parents should Keep your eyes open on what your children are doing. We want to lay a good foundation for our country,” she said.
She further urged the government to tighten its borders decrying that most of the illicit substances are sneaked in from the neighbouring countries of Uganda and Ethiopia.