The success of government’s fresh initiative to crack down on illicit drinks will depend on the resolve to deal with administrators and security officers who abet the sale and consumption of the liquors.
Experience across the country indicates that the trade in cheap liquors thrives largely because the traders are protected by security officers and administration officials.
Moreover, many top government officials engage in the trade themselves or through proxies, making it difficult for anyone to close their establishments. The trade is lucrative and the monies involved are huge, hence curbing it must be well thought through.
At the same time, the government has to make a hard decision on regulating licences for such drinks. In recent times and especially during the lockdowns occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic, so many alcohol shops mushroomed across urban and rural markets, most of them dealing in cheap and illicit drinks.
We have wine and spirit shops in every neighbourhood and the levels of drinking have risen to worrying levels. Tragically, nobody checks the quality of the stuff sold at these premises. Anything goes.
The dangers of excessive consumption of alcohol are well known. But consumers still partake of illegal stuff, most of which are so lethal and dangerous to health. Just last month, the country recorded 10 deaths in Bahati in Nakuru County where locals consumed dangerous drinks. Many people and especially youngsters have been wasted by consuming such drinks.
We support the new rapid response initiative spearheaded by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i. However, this should not be an episodic response that wanes as soon as the top government officials go back to their offices.
The drive to eradicate sale and consumption of illicit drinks must be pushed to the logical end. It requires consistency and moral rectitude.