Take decisive action on illicit liquors now

torched bar

A bar set ablaze in Kangai village, Kirinyaga County, after six people died after drinking an illicit brew believed to have been laced with ethanol.

Photo credit: George Munene | Nation Media Group

The government must take decisive action to combat the producers of illicit liquors. Despite numerous laws to combat their production, consumption and sale, the direct consequences of these deadly brews still persist.

The effects include blindness and addiction, which have endangered our young and growing population countrywide.

It’s ironic that people are aware of the direct effects of these brews yet they continue to consume them. UNODC’s “World Drug Report” of 2018 says a staggering 450,000 lives were lost due to the side-effects of these brews.

The most frustrating part of the issue is that the police are aware of the brewers and distillers who produce the illicit liquors but they turn a blind eye on them for their own questionable benefit. Such public servants should be sanctioned accordingly.

Even though they have a duty to protect the citizens from such issues, many of the security officers don’t take the matter seriously. Rather, they give the criminals unfettered leeway to go ahead with their vile activities,so long as they pay ‘protection fee’.

The real danger is that the producers of the liquors mostly use chemicals that are poisonous. These wreak havoc with the liver, leading to cirrhosis and, in some cases, permanent blindness or death.

Sadly, as a result of the increased consumption of these illicit liquors, many have fallen victim to their disastrous effects.

Western Kenya is reportedly the largest producer of illicit liquors, according to the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada). Chief executive Victor Okioma revealed this on January 27.

Across the country, many of the young and jobless turn to the illicit liquor dens for perceived solace since the ‘drinks’ are more affordable for them compared to the popular factory-manufactured alcohol brands, which are highly taxed, making them out of the reach of many revellers.

It’s high time the national and county governments’ administrative officers speeded up their crackdown on production of the illegal liquors. Besides, they should take stern action against the producers and sellers of these illicit liquors, including successfully prosecuting the culprits.

Godfrey Wafula, Busia