Back war on drugs, alcohol

The rampant cases of drug and alcohol abuse in the country call for serious attention. Many lives, especially of young people, have been wrecked. Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir are leading separate related campaigns in a bid to reverse the sorry situation. DP Gachagua is waging a war against alcohol abuse, which is rife especially in his own Mount Kenya region backyard, where it has caused untold damage. Governor Nassir has his eyes trained on regulating miraa and muguka trade in the coastal county.

Mr Nassir has had cess on muguka raised from Sh24,000 to Sh80,000 for seven tonnes with special areas designated for this business. He also wants tuktuks, boda boda and matatus prohibited from transporting the stimulants without a licence. The objective is to limit exposure to the herbs by schoolchildren and curb their abuse. However, the move threatens a source of livelihood for the growers of the herbs in Mt Kenya region and also traders countrywide. Top Mt Kenya leaders have been persuading the governor to relax the regulations.

DP Gachagua wants the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act amended to tighten regulation of the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol so as to stop its abuse. Alcohol abuse has had socioeconomic effects, even deaths. There are deadly counterfeits and other substandard drinks in the market. The DP wants the licensing of bars transferred from county governments to the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) to check proliferation of illicit liquor. But some see this as undermining devolution.

Mr Gachagua’s proposal has ruffled feathers. So has Gov. Nassir’s. It is a pity that county leaders seem more interested in the revenue they get from bar licences than the people’s health. Drug and alcohol abuse and addiction are major national issues. There is a need to tighten measures to prevent young people’s lives from being ruined by drugs and alcohol.