Illicit brews: Chiefs urged to conduct public barazas in Gatundu
The government has ordered chiefs and their assistants to be conducting weekly public gatherings at Kimunyu village of Gatundu South in Kiambu county in a new bid to find a lasting solution to growing illicit brews menace.
The local administrators will be holding barazas every Sunday as the government now tightens its belt to stamp out the danger that has so far claimed five lives.
The five middle-aged men reportedly died after drinking illicitly-brewed alcohol believed to have been laced with industrial chemicals.
They were aged between 22-40 years and they succumbed to the poisonous nature of the illicit liquor in a period of one and a half weeks leaving a cloud of darkness at the village that is also President Uhuru Kenyatta’s backyard.
Gatundu South Deputy County Commissioner Stanley Kamande noted with concern that indeed uptake of the outlawed substances was on the rise in the area and expressed the need for collaborative effort by all stakeholders to wipe it out.
To enhance the fight against the menace, Kamande announced that aging Nyumba Kumi officials will step down and, in their place, new officers will be elected by villagers, a move he said will help gather crucial information that will lead to arrest and prosecution of the brewers.
“We will be doing this to standardize information gathering on the ground. We don’t want to see residents demonstrating any further because of a challenge like this,” he said.
Speaking after a meeting between local administrators, police and influential community leaders from Ng’enda ward where the danger has been on a rising trajectory, Kamande regretted that illicit brews manufacturers have been producing the harmful substances at deep forests, coffee plantations and along fishy riverbank dens in Juja and Ruiru constituencies.
He said that his officers are not barred by constituency boundaries to hunt the criminals and vowed to go for them, their hideouts notwithstanding.
Re-introduction of public barazas that had been banned to contain the spread of Covid-19 pandemic was enthusiastically welcomed by locals who expressed hope that the new strategy will result in people giving out information to authorities without fear.
Led by Joe Kigara and Anastacia Wanjiru, the villagers highlighted that the meetings will forge an effective communication channel on production, sale and consumption stations of the brews.
“We will now have a chance to speak out what we know about the brews menace. Authorities will now not blame us for not giving out information,” said Kigara.
According to Nacada central regional manager Amos Warui, there is an urgent need to engage idle youths from the area in sporting activities and employment in government projects.
Warui who had also attended the meeting further rooted for parental guidance, spiritual sensitization among other measures to arrest the threat.
“Collaborative efforts will help us win this fight. We need to save the young people we have through mentorship, parental engagement among other measures,” said Warui.