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Reawakened clampdown on illicit alcohol fish manufacturers

By Lydiah Nyawira | Published Thu, March 8th 2018 at 00:00, Updated March 7th 2018 at 22:26 GMT +3
A police officer confiscates packed second generation liquor during a crackdown in Nyeri. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

A team inspecting manufacturers of spirits has moved to Central as the 100-day crackdown on illicit alcohol in the country entered its seventh day.

The alcoholic drinks targeted are those that have not been approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs). Their manufacturers also operate without the necessary  licences from Kenya Revenue Authority.

Central Regional Co-ordinator Wilson Njega said an intergovernmental task force would visit and inspect manufacturers based in Kiambu and Nyandarua counties to determine if they met the required standards.

The task force has officials from the National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (Nacada), Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Public Health, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), National Environmental Management Agency (Nema) and Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), Kenya Counterfeit Agency and the police.

Six arrested

Mr Njega was speaking after confiscating chang’aa and bhang worth about Sh1 million in Chaka Town where six people were arrested.

Njega said the task force would carry out the operation in five counties in the region.

The operation, which is a follow-up to the 2015 crackdown on illicit liquor, will be carried out in five counties to ensure alcohol manufacturers are adhering to standards.

“In Nyeri, Kirinyaga and Murang’a, there are no manufacturing plants for alcohol therefore our focus will be on distributors and retail outlets. However, Kiambu and Nyandarua counties have manufacturing plants which we intend to visit and assess,” Njega said.

He said there are at least five manufacturing plants for second generation alcohol in Kiambu and one major factory in Nyandarua.

Njega said the most factories were shut down during the 2015 crackdown on illicit brews but some had resurfaced. “We intend to enforce the law and visit these manufacturing firms as we inspect them to confirm if they are meeting the public health and Kebs standards, as well as paying KRA taxes for their operations,” he said.

He said the reason the police were working within the inter-agency task force was to ensure they would build solid prosecution cases as they would rely on advice provided by various agencies.

“These agencies have mandate to inspect any business or bar to ascertain whether they are meeting the standards and requirements by law. Therefore, we are working within the confines of the law,” said Njega.

After a three-day operation in Nyeri County, the team will then move to Kiambu where they will spend five days carrying out a similar operation.

Spirits outlets

“Kiambu has 13 sub-counties and 1.7 million residents. The size of the county requires we spend more time in the county seeking out any second generation alcohol,” the regional boss said.

The task force will then carry out a similar initiative in Kirinyaga, Nyandarua and Murang’a. 

Nacada Central Regional Coordinator James Macharia led the team which visited warehouses, bars and wines and spirits outlets in efforts to weed out illicit brews.

“We are not targeting businesses out of malice or ill motives. This is an exercise that will be fair and focus on enforcing the law and standards set for alcoholic beverages,” said Macharia.

He said the crackdown would continue for weeks to ensure public safety.

“This is an ongoing exercise to make sure the gains made in the 2015 crackdown are maintained,” said Macharia.