By Francis Ngige
It is now official that Central Kenya is drinking itself into oblivion, The Standard can authoritatively reveal.
Most affected are men, including the married lot who no longer have conjugal relations with their spouses, leading to fears schools might be extinct within the next 10 years as birth rates fall.
“In relation to excessive consumption of alcohol, Central Kenya is the hardest hit. This has resulted to slowed development, less productivity and reduced
birth rates,” said the chairman of the National Agency for the Campaign Against Drugs ( Nacada), Dr Frank Njenga. A report by Nacada shows the prevalence rate of alcoholism in men stands at 34 per cent in Central Kenya. Grim statistics unveiled by the agency confirmed the worst fears of leaders in a region where the number of bars outnumber schools by 20 per cent.
According to Nacada, there are over 5,000 bars selling alcohol directly to drinkers compared to 3,600 schools.
The number could be higher because many bars changed their licenses to restaurants and hotels in order to get around the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act (commonly known as the Mututho laws).
Restaurants and hotels are allowed by law to sell drinks any time of the day, as long as it is accompanied by food. Before the reclassification a year ago, the number of bars in the region was 9, 000 while the number of schools remained the same.
In the first quarter of this year alone, nearly 200,000 litres of illicit brew have been impounded in the region with 30 deaths reported.
Although there have been efforts to reduce the number of bars, the problem has been compounded by complacency among some administrators and law enforcers.
About 15 administrators are already facing disciplinary cases, apparently for compromising the fight against the proliferation of bootleg liquor.