Gachagua: Public officials main hindrance in illicit brews battle

Central Region leaders led by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua arrive in Nyeri during the meeting on the eradication of alcohol and drug abuse. Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua on Friday declared war on the illicit brew business in Mt Kenya.

The DP was speaking during a meeting for elected leaders and administrators from Central Kenya at the Regional Commissioner's residence in Nyeri town. DP Gachagua said the region was flagged for having the highest alcohol consumption and drug abuse.

"Public officers who are active in the alcohol business have been mentioned as the main challenge in the war against counterfeit alcohol. Those who stand in our way will face the law," he said.

The DP said the forum was held in Nyeri because the statistics from the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) showed Central is the most affected by the menace.

"The statistics given to President William Ruto by Nacada show Central region is the most affected. He gave directives that we have a multi-sectoral convention and come up with resolutions," he said.

Gachagua said the high level of alcohol consumption and drug abuse has made youths no longer productive. "We have a serious problem of illicit brews, second-generation alcohol and other drugs. If we don't act fast we will lose a generation. We are worried that even hard drugs are being sold in villages and small towns," he said.

The DP said no one will be intimidated and there will be no blame game in trying to solve the problem. He added that this will not be the only forum taking place but that more will be organised in Nakuru, Mombasa and Embu.

"Today we have set the pace for more consultative meetings like this since the problem is countrywide."

Nacada programme manager Amos Warui said 17.5 per cent of Kenyans consume drugs and alcohol while in the Central region, the consumption is at 18.4 per cent with alcohol abuse leading at 12.8 per cent.

The report shows second-generation brew is the biggest challenge in the central region at 4.1 per cent. The population affected by alcohol consumption in the Central region is slightly below 500,000.

Kenya Bureau of Standards MD Bernard Njiraini said the increase in alcohol consumption is a result of licensed manufacturers counterfeiting their own products.

He said they have come up with different standards for those who want to manufacture alcohol in a controlled way.

"We have developed a standard for chang'aa to bring on board establishments that don' sell toxic drinks," he said.