Clamp down on use of illicit beverages
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui has raised the alarm following the death of 10 people to illicit brew in a week.
According to the county boss, the residents of Hodi Hodi slum in Bahati died after they drunk changaa laced with a chemical with a police station and chief’s camp barely a stone’s throw away.
We attribute the drinking of illicit brew to poverty, low incomes and addiction.
Desperate parents have been watching painfully as their children waste away, families broken, careers destroyed and dreams shattered because of consumption of these brews.
While it takes individual responsibility for youths to dissuade themselves against drinking harmful concoctions, the role of police in abetting the crime cannot be overstated.
According to the governor, police were exploiting the vulnerabilities of poor youth to make a killing at the expense of their lives.
Instead of battling with illicit alcohol dealers, the officers and chiefs collect bribes from the sellers as protection fees as the shebeens continue to thrive.
In some cases, the illicit brew establishments are owned by the very officers and chiefs through proxies.
In fact, it is a well-known fact most of the thriving alcohol selling joints belong to police officers giving them an aura of impunity.
This is a very unfortunate tendency by individuals who earn taxpayers money to prevent crime and grossly irresponsible administrators violating their oath of office.
The governor accused the police and chiefs of laxity in utilising information collected by intelligence systems on importation of chemicals that are used to process illicit brew.
We hold that the perpetual images we see of chiefs pouring illicit beer are merely public relations stunts. What then explains the thriving and seemingly illicit beer industry?
Insinuation that authorities only respond to such cases only when they touch on the rich raises questions about our sense of responsibility.
But of significance is the need for the political leadership to come up with policies that will grow the economy, create jobs and wealth as well as expand access to opportunity.
This will increase family incomes and free disillusioned from alcoholism and ruin.
As a society, we owe it to the future generations to ensure we play our role in raising productive and responsible youth by constant vigilance and guidance. The Nakuru deaths were preventable.
We urge the government to wage a credible crackdown on illicit brew to protect lives.