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Illicit liquor making Meru youth impotent, leaders say

By Phares Mutembei | October 7th 2014

MERU COUNTY: Debate on unchecked consumption of alcohol among the youth in Meru County continued to rage, with angry leaders and parents urging the county government to take urgent measures to curb the trend.

Concerned parents have poked holes into the implementation of Meru County Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill 2014, saying relevant enforcers are sleeping on the job.

“What is the need to have laws if they are not being implemented? Our children are drinking alcohol from cock row to sunset, and law enforcers are not carrying out their duties of regulating its consumption,” said Magadaline Mwiti, a parent.

Addressing a public baraza in Meru, former Finance minister David Mwiraria, said the rate of alcohol consumption among young people in Meru is alarming, and there was concerted efforts were needed to save the situation. “Lives of young people are going to the dogs at a serious rate. It is a matter of great concern that our young men are being laid to waste by liquor, most of which is illicit. Our youth will be completely wiped out if nothing is done now,” said Mwiraria.

Stephen Thinkei, a Njuri Ncheke elder, said the future of the community is threatened by the readily available unlicensed brew. “The county government and everyone else has to act now. Our young men are being rendered impotent by the potent yet cheap liquor. We will have to ‘import’ men from other counties if we do not rescue the youth from cheap spirits now!” said Mr. Thinkei. He said a common brand called ‘ka bondi’ is adulterated and lethal, thus poses danger to the youth’s reproductive health.

Meru County Assembly Speaker Joseph Kaberia said the Meru County Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill 2014 imposes heavy penalties on any person(s) that sell alcohol to underage persons or manufactures or sells harmful alcohol. "We value the future of our youth and that is why we came up with tough laws to regulate and monitor the industry,” said Mr. Kaberia. But a group of manufacturers and bar owners have filed a petition challenging sections of the Bill, arguing against a ban of some of their drinks.

Prof Erastus Njoka, the chairman of Meru Professionals Association, said, “Alcoholism is a disease and it is a matter of grave concern and we have to admit the rate of consumption among youths in Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties is worrying us. We must take the necessary steps as a matter of urgency.”

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