State destroys illicit liquor in renewed RRI crackdown
The government has destroyed thousands of litres of illicit liquor in the ongoing nationwide crackdown under the Rapid Results Initiative (RRI).
Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said the operation had yielded results as the exercise enters its second week.
Kibicho said at least 30,000 youths had died, lost vision or turned into zombies after consuming illicit brews.
Speaking while launching the initiative in Thika, Kiambu county, on Wednesday, Kibicho led a multi-agency team in destroying bhang, heroine, chang’aa, illicit alcohol among other items nabbed in the operation.
He passionately narrated distressing stories that officers involved in the fight have had to encounter including women stripping naked to evade arrest or invasion of their brewing dens.
“We have removed condoms in the alcoholic drinks. At some point some of us have encountered a woman strip naked to evade arrest.
The fight has seen us learn a lot and I want to thank officers for helping us fight the menace,” he remarked.
The PS said the government has sacked several civil servants while others faced disciplinary actions for abetting crime or protecting illicit brewers.
Kibicho was accompanied by Kiambu deputy governor Joyce Ngugi, National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) board chairperson Mabel Imbuga and Thika Town MP Patrick Wainaina.
The PS who warned brewers that the government will not spare anyone saying they have instructed officers involved in crackdowns to follow the source of outlawed substances instead of harassing drunkards yet the main manufacturers are left roaming freely.
“We will be ruthless with you. This is not a fight we are fighting with jokes, if you want to bribe us, please gather several briefcases but be warned that you will be imprisoned and the money used to do a few projects here and there,” he added.
He at the same time faulted county governments for irregularly licensing bars thereby facilitating its abuse, urging the parliament to review licensing guidelines to return standardisation of alcohol to the national government.
The crackdowns in the counties have seen arrests and prosecution of traders, closure of bars and premises found to hold illicit liquor with operation commanders confirming the same was moving on smoothly.
Even as multi agency teams continue with the operation, a section of bar owners in West Pokot County have decried unfair business competition following an influx of cheap alcohol from Uganda.
Speaking during the official launch of a multi-agency team RRI at Makutano Market in Kapenguria Town, the proprietors said there were beers being smuggled from Uganda with many customers falling for them because they are cheaper.
They said the drinks were being sold discretely within the region with the distributors using motorbikes to evade paying taxes through evading designated border points.
“We want the law enforcement agencies to increase their surveillance to ensure the drinks are not smuggled into the region since they have greatly affected those conducting genuine businesses,” said a proprietor, John Kuria.
In Embu, police seized over 3,500 empty bottles of assorted illegal alcoholic drinks, as the crackdown of illicit liquor and contraband goods entered day three in the County.
A woman suspect was arrested in connection with the haul after she was found cleaning the bottles in a river, within a forested area in Maranga sub-location.
Area Deputy County Commissioner, George Omolo, warned those involved in the illegal trade their days were numbered and they will not spare any effort in ridding the sub-county of illicit liquor menace.
“We shall sustain the crackdown as long as it takes because these traders are offering in the market nothing but poison,” said the administrator.
Elsewhere in Laikipia, Laikipia East Sub County police commander, John Tarus, said they combined efforts with NACADA, National Government Administration (NGAO), and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) in the crackdown aiming to curb the sale of substandard alcohol in the county. - Roy Lumbe, Mathew Ndung’u Oliver Musembi