Governor Njuki decries illicit brews laced with mortuary preservatives

Muthomi Njuki

Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki addressing farmers at  Ndiruni in Chuka/Igambang’ombe constituency on March 20, 2023. He has decried increased illicit brews in the county.

Photo credit: Alex Njeru I Nation Media Group

Illicit brew makers in Tharaka Nithi County are using formalin, a chemical used to preserve bodies in mortuaries, and other hazardous chemicals to hasten fermentation to make quick cash.

Speaking in Magumoni ward in Chuka/Igambang’ombe constituency yesterday, Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki warned that the chemicals have adversely affected the consumers by turning them into zombies and are partly to blame for some terminal illnesses such as cancer and liver complications.

“It is shocking to note that illicit liquor is laced with formalin, a chemical used in the preservation of bodies in mortuaries and other dangerous substances,” Governor Njuki said.

He said many men have been unable to start families and the few who get married are not responsible since the burden of raising children rests on their wives.

The use of formalin in making illicit brew is a departure from the commonly used antiretroviral drugs, painkillers, methanol, lead acid, dry cells and other hard drugs such as bhang and cocaine.

During raids, security and administration officers have also witnessed strange cases of brewers putting weird objects such as dead rats, innerwear and sanitary pads in the liquor.


The county boss said at times the consumers become unconscious with some wetting themselves and others sleeping by the roadside or in marketplaces for the whole day and night.

He said those addicted to the dangerous brew wake up early in the morning every day and rush to the dens where they spend their days.

He said illicit liquor was also to blame for most criminal activities such as robberies because youths steal to get money to afford it.

He said the liquor also contributes to domestic violence which sometimes results in murder and gender-based violence.

“In some families, there are no young children because the brew has either turned the men impotent or have no time with their wives since they are always drunk and violent,” he said.

Mr Njuki said he had made strides towards ending the menace which is a threat to youths not just in his county but the entire Mt Kenya region.

He pointed out that in Western Kenya residents still consume their harmless traditional liquor known as busaa which is a mixture of fermented cereals and that is why their schools are full of children while in Mt Kenya there are no Early Childhood Development classes in some schools.

Last month, the county chief announced stringent measures to curb the excessive consumption of alcohol and end the illicit liquor menace in the devolved unit.

Revoked licenses

The governor revoked all brewing licences and announced stricter procedures for applicants for the renewal of bar operation licenses that expired at the end of last month.

He said brewers will only be given a nod after undergoing a fresh analysis of the alcoholic beverages they manufacture by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) to ensure they are safe for human consumption.

The county chief announced that in a market or town, bars and other consumable goods shops must not exceed the ratio of 1:3 respectively and that they will be licensed after meeting all the legal requirements.

Mr Njuki pointed out that trade licenses for manufacturing companies selling ingredients for making liquor in the guise of animal feed will be revoked.

He vowed that notorious brewers who will continue brewing even after being fined by the court will face the wrath of the locals.

“I will personally lead the locals in destroying brewing dens for the notorious brewers because we must end this menace which is a threat to our people,” he said.