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Kinyanjui blames State laxity on illicit brew menace after 10 die

RIFT VALLEY
By Kennedy Gachuhi | August 15th 2021

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui during the flagging of Road equipment in Nakuru on August 13, 2021.[Harun Wathari,Standard]

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui has hit out at the national government over what he termed as lack of goodwill to end the illicit liquor menace that has claimed 10 lives in Nakuru County since Monday.

Kinyanjui, who spoke at the county headquarters on Friday took issue with senior officers at the Ministry of Interior, whom he accused of turning a blind eye on the tragedy that left nine others hospitalised.

The Governor singled out Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i and Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, whom he said have been unavailable despite his efforts to reach out to them for assistance.

“I have been trying to reach out to Matiang’i and Kibicho. They have not been available. Ten people can die in a country and they are too busy for their own people? This is very serious. Maybe they want the number to get to 20 so that they can see the seriousness,” said Kinyanjui when he commissioned road equipment on Friday.

He accused the duo of applying double standards while performing their duties, adding that they have been giving more attention when such matters touch on the rich and powerful.

“If this happened in an upmarket pub in Westlands or Muthaiga, the number of choppers that would be fighting to land here with government officials would be shocking. But because it happened in an area inhabited by the poor, they have no interest,” he said.

Kinyanjui said the carefree attitude towards the impoverished was evident among police service and local administration, whom he accused of collecting bribes from the brewers and rogue traders.

“The greater tragedy in the Hodi Hodi deaths is that they occurred in a place within a 200-meter radius from a police station and chief's offices. These are people who instead of helping the county in fighting the brew, they collect money from brewers as protection fees,” he said.

According to Bahati residents, the 10 who succumbed had consumed a drink made of chemicals. They say the dealer erred in making the correct ratio of water in the brew.

The governor accused police of laxity in utilizing information collected by intelligence systems on the illegal importation of chemicals used to process illicit brew in parts of the county.

“There is no way methanol can make it into the country without the government knowing. We have an intelligence system that is very effective. If the national government wants to end the illicit alcohol trade, it can happen in a day,” he said.

He vowed to mobilize residents across the county in a civilian crackdown on illicit liquor, adding that the outcry from women in the county has been heard for long without any action by the authorities.

“Women are tired of seeing their men and sons wasted by alcohol. If the national government will not be able to protect its people, we shall protect ourselves," said Kinyanjui.

Adding that, "We are ready for the consequences. If that is what will save the next generation we are ready for it.”

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