By Joe Kiarie
Questions linger over the continued sale of illicit brews despite the introduction of tough laws to curb it three years ago.
Law enforcers have in the past month seized thousands of litres of illicit liquor across the country in response to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s stern warning to illicit brewers and drug dealers. A high number of crackdowns in major brewing dens have, on average, helped net 5,000 litres of the outlawed brews. But the main puzzle is how such huge volumes of liquor have either been brewed or smuggled in and openly sold in recent years despite the passing of the heavily punitive Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, commonly known as the Mututho laws, in 2010.
Under Section 38 of the law, brewing and sale of illicit liquor amounts to an offence and those found guilty are liable to a jail term of up to 10 years, or a fine of up to Sh10 million or both. For licensed dealers, the law provides that licenses be forfeited, and that no new licenses shall be granted or transferred to them thereafter, if an alcoholic drink is adulterated by a substance that renders it unfit for human consumption. Former Naivasha MP John Mututho, the architect of the law, strongly expresses his disappointment that poor Kenyans continue to perish at the hands of illicit brewers despite his efforts to reverse the situation.
He accuses the National Authority for Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) of complacency and failure to advise the executive on proper formulas to fight the vice. However, Nacada CEO Dr William Okedi dismisses the assertion, blaming the vice on lax law enforcement and widespread manufacturing of alcohol for commercial purposes.
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To curb the rampant sale of illicit brews, he says Nacada has taken various measures, among them sensitising students in schools countrywide.