State launches 30-day rapid crackdown on illicit drinks

Friday, September 10th, 2021 00:00 |
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and PS Karanja Kibicho (left) during a meeting on implementation of Rapid Response Initiative at the Kenya School of Government, yesterday. Photo/PD/Kenna Claude

The government has launched a 30-day Rapid Response Initiative (RRI) to get rid of sub-standard and alcoholic drinks and other substances in the country.

Multi-pronged campaign will also target alcoholic administrators, who have been identified as the weakest link in the fight against illicit brews that recently cost the lives of over 10 people in Nakuru county.

RRI programme seeks to enforce compliance with the national standards and other regulations, eliminate illicit and counterfeit alcoholic drinks and educate the public on the dangers of the drinks.

Referral policy

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i yesterday said the proliferation of cheap and illegal liquor, whose supply and consumption tends to rise sharply towards election season, posed serious public health and safety challenges to a system that is already reeling from the strain of Covid-19 pandemic.

Alcoholism among chiefs and their assistants was a matter of concern, as it was said they could not discharge their duties effectively.

The CS directed that any administrator found guilty be dismissed and sent to rehabilitation centres.

““We have a serious challenge of alcohol abuse aggravated by the season of elections. Some people imagine it is time to provide cheap liquor to enable campaigns. In some cases, this trend is chronic,” he said.

“We must be candid enough to admit we have a problem from within. If you are a drunken officer who is wobbling in public barazas, how will you implement the RRI?

How can you enforce the law when you are supposed to be in a rehab centre?” he added.

The CS was speaking at the Kenya School of Government where he met Regional and County  Commissioners during the RRI launch.

The administrators are expected to spearhead the crackdown in their respective jurisdictions.

Teams to conduct the exercise will include officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the National Police Service, local administrators and the National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drugs Abuse (Nacada). 

The CS revealed that some administrators had been compromised by the brewers and sellers, thus compromising the war on illicit brews.

Same function

He also blamed county governments for licensing bars and other joints even in residential areas, hence compromising efforts to address the menace.

“When you ask them why they do so, they say it is their responsibilities and that they are chasing revenue. It is  wrong,” he said.

Covid-19 pandemic protocols also led to increased alcohol abuse since most people resorted to drinking at home to avoid being caught out during curfew hours.

Alcohol and drugs use has been a menace in the country despite Government efforts to address the same.

A survey by Nacada in 2017 established that some 4.9 million Kenyans aged between 15 and 65 use at least one drug or substance of abuse.

Speaking at the same function, Interior Permanent Secretary Dr Karanja Kibicho said the government will put a stop to the cyclic nature of deaths from consumption of illicit alcohol witnessed during the election season by dedicating enough resources to counter the menace. 

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