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Nyanza Regional Commissioner launches fresh onslaught on illegal brews 

The  Nyanza  Regional  Commissioner (RC), Moffat  Kangi has launched a renewed operation to crack down on illicit brews in the region.

The  heightened multi-agency operation will see chiefs and their assistants join hands with the police in a reloaded efforts aimed at ridding off, not only Kisumu but the entire Nyanza region of unlicensed alcohol.

Kangi issued the new alcohol directive at a press briefing on Thursday in his Kisumu office, giving a terse warning of dire punitive consequences to security personnel who fail to implement the new  order.

“The security team has rolled out a major operation to crack down on unlicensed brew in Nyanza region starting with Kisumu in a drive that is expected to restore sanity in the handling of alcohol and related substances in the country,” said Kangi

The administrator reiterated that stiff action would be taken against police officers found culpable of sabotaging the exercise by colluding with unscrupulous individuals who sell the illicit liquors.

He cited the infiltration of unlicensed alcohol that are packaged in sachets and other plastic containers and that are smuggled from the neighbouring countries as among the targeted illicit alcohol that they intend to eradicate.

The RC further disclosed that several bar owners trading in the outlawed brews have been arrested following the launch and will be arraigned in court to answer to the respective charges.

The move comes in the wake of a similar directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta, who recently called on security agencies to step-up the war on unlicensed brews.

Meanwhile, former Chairman of the National Agency for Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA), John Mututho and Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu have vowed that they will deal ruthlessly with unscrupulous businessmen engaged in resurgence of illicit brews in the region.

Speaking to KNA on Thursday at the Kiambu Ministry of Information Office enroute to Kiambu High Court to pursue legal issues touching on the recently debated Kiambu Alcoholic Bill at the County Assembly, Mututho said that the County needed to be guided into the best practices that were workable and could go a long way to totally crack the whip on illegal brewers.

The Former NACADA Chairman, who has been retained as the Alcohol Control Consultant in the County, noted that the government was committed to winning the war on the illicit brews within 90 days.

Mututho regretted that a lot of money was being spent by innocent residents in purchasing illicit brews in a month, adding that the business benefits the seller’s pockets without care to the young generation.

He warned bar owners and illegal brewers selling second generation liquor under the counter that their days were numbered.

Mututho cautioned them to stop flouting the laws and that if they do so then dire consequences would be taken against them.

He noted that night clubs within two kilometers of learning institutions and residential areas holding 24 hours licenses must be done in written agreement with the locals, that they will be accountable and take full responsibility for any mess brought about by their businesses.

Mututho further revealed that they had engaged all line agencies to have collective responsibility with all organs among them the judiciary, the National Environment Management Authority, County Government, Security agencies and the locals.

“It’s technical to say that the region will be free from second generation alcohol and alcoholic dens in the next couple of days. We need to deal with all the loopholes since the legal tools have been sealed off. It’s a total ban for second generation, wines and spirits outlets,” the former Chairman said.

Waititu, after signing the Alcoholic Control Bill passed by the County Assembly recently, had expressed concern over resurgence of illicit brews, warning pub owners over intensive crack-down if they continued to flout the alcoholic laws.

The Governor pointed out that he will ensure all second generation wines and spirits will not be allowed within the region, adding that close to 50,000 people have been affected by the alcohol.

On the other hand, the Chairman of the Kiambu Bar Owners Association, Richard  Waweru, was granted a court order by Kiambu High Court Judge, Justice Joel Ngugi, blocking the County Government from arresting members who operated without licenses.

The County Government has denied the claims, pointing out that they were interested in cracking down illegal brews, and will not relent until they completely stopped engaging in illegal business which was affecting the future generation.

The Bill states that a person shall not manufacture, produce or sell any alcoholic drink in the County except in accordance with the License Issuance Act 4 (1), a person who contravenes the Sub-section (1) commits an offence and on conviction, shall be liable to a fine not exceeding 1 million shillings or not more than one year imprisonment.

Elsewhere, the Nyamira County’s Bogichora location is leading in drugs and substance abuse, according to the National Agency for the Campaign Against Drugs and Alcohol Abuse (NACADA).

The  NACADA Nyanza Regional Co-coordinator, Esther Okenye, noted that the location in West Mugirango Constituency had over 76 alcohol joints and the sale of illegal local brew was at the high rate unlike other areas in the County.

“In the whole County, this is the place where we are having many bars and illicit brew sale joints unlike schools, residents here are commercializing on drug abuse than anything else constructive and developmental, there is a high number of drug addicts,” said Okenye.

Speaking during a sensitization meeting at Makairo Market, the coordinator urged the youths, who she pointed are the main affected by the vice, to instead engage in farming and exploit their talents as an option for white collar jobs which he noted have become scarce due to the Country’s struggling economy.

“Instead of engaging in drug abuse, our youths who are the major players here should focus in agriculture and exploit their talents as a source of income instead of relying on getting white collar jobs which have of late become scarce in our Country,” she urged.

Nyamira County Commissioner (CC), Isaiah Nakoru warned that the government would close all bars and joints in the County which operated without licenses and beyond the set time.

He added that most of the bars in the region sold illicit and harmful brews.

“We are going to close all bars operating without licenses and revoke those operating outside the set time. The law must be followed and the business should be legal, anything outside that should not be allowed,” warned Nakoru.

Bar owners and workers had demonstrated last week in the streets of Nyamira for what they termed as harassment by police officers for allegedly operating without licenses from the Liquor and Alcohol Licensing Board.

They claimed that the County Government had not put in place the Board to issue bars with the certificates of operation.

But Nakoru insisted that bar operators and dealers in alcoholic substances should follow the laid down licensing procedures or risk facing the full force of the law.

Okenye said that NACADA would soon embark on a crackdown on illicit liquor brewers and dealers in the area to help stump-out the menace which she said was a hindrance to national development.

By  Milton  Onyango/Nelson  Muchoki/Daniel  Mecha

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