With schools closed for Easter holidays, parents are grappling with a fresh wave of juvenile delinquency, with a majority of schoolchildren reported to be engaging in drug and alcohol use.
In the past one week alone, police in Kuria West sub-county have conducted raids at local joints and seized hundreds of litres of illicit brew in fresh efforts to combat the drunkenness that has risen with the closure of schools.
Kuria West Police Commander Cletti Kimaiyo noted that dozens of brewers of illicit alcohol have also been arrested in the swoop and brewing paraphernalia destroyed.
“We will not relent in the fight against adulterated alcohol being sold in this area because it is our children and immediate families who bear the brunt of this illegal activity,” Mr Kimaiyo warned moments after arresting dozens of brewers.
The raid came barely a week after local administrators raided Oruba estate on the outskirts of Migori town and destroyed over 500 litres of chang’aa and another 200 litres of kangara (fermented liquor) that was buried on the banks of the Migori river.
Administration police officers
The operation, conducted by Oruba-Ragana Location Chief John Okombo and a contingent of administration police officers, also netted a consignment of cannabis sativa, which is believed to be peddled to students in Migori town.
The brewers fled after getting wind of the crackdown, leaving behind the brew, which was destroyed.
Chief Okombo said chang’aa dealers have changed tack to avoid arrest, with some burying the alcohol in shallow pits and others keeping it in thickets.
“These players in the business have a huge network, with informers in the police department who leak information about imminent raids. This has been the biggest drawback in the fight against illicit brew,” noted the administrator.
Closure of schools
The raids have exposed a new wave of juvenile delinquency following the recent closure of schools.
The Nation has established that apart from indulging in illegal substances, some young people were actively involved in the sale of drugs, with parents crying out to law enforcers to crack the whip on perpetrators.
Locals we spoke to pointed accusing fingers at rogue law enforcers taking part in the illicit business, often paid a token as protection fees to provide intelligence reports on impending raids.
Notorious for the outlawed trade are the informal settlements of Oruba, Nyangubo and Pand Pieri on the outskirts of Migori town, as well as villages in Kakrao, Rayudhi and God Jope in Suna East sub-county.
Illegal brews and drugs are also sold in other areas such as Jiw Dendi estate in Awendo sub-county, Kogenya and Rakwaro villages in Rongo sub-county, and Lwanda Mgwar in Nyatike sub-county.
In the affected areas, it is not unusual to find groups of boys, some as young as 12, drunk by 9am, while some are actively involved in brewing, which takes place in broad daylight along the river banks.
It has also emerged that the brewers are not scared of law enforcers, who are on their payroll, and often boast about being immune against arrest.
Young boys often throng the dens as early as 5am, doing chores before they are allowed to drink their heads off as a form of payment.
A glass of the brew
“I do not pay them in cash. A majority crave the drink and are willing to work in exchange for a glass of the brew,” explained a brewer in Nyasare village, Suna East.
Once brewed, the liquor is packed in five-litre jerrycans and supplied by the boys to various destinations in neighbouring towns to beat the police dragnet.
Last weekend, some women in Kakrao village stormed a notorious den and ejected their school-going sons who were on a drinking spree.
The women claimed that their children had resorted to stealing their property and selling it at the joints to buy alcohol.
“It is sad that our children spend the whole day in drinking dens barely a week after closing school. They are soon turning them into zombies since they have refused to work yet they come home drunk demanding food,” lamented Mrs Maureen Awino, one of the affected women.
“Police and the local administrators are giving us a raw deal. Instead of cracking down on the menace, they only pass by the dens to collect bribes.”
The women urged the authorities to close down the dens.