Help us fight illicit brews, Gachagua urges counties

Tuesday, May 7th, 2024 02:45 | By
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua with governors (from left) Abdi Guyo (Isiolo), Jonathan Leleti (Samburu) and Joseph ole Lenku (Kajiado) during the 23rd Ordinary Session of the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council in Karen, yesterday. PHOTO/Nobert Allan/DPCS

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has asked governors to support the National government’s bid to transfer the mandate of licensing bars and liquor businesses from county governments to the State anti-drug agency.

He also asked the county bosses to back the ongoing reforms in the coffee sub-sector, stating that some counties were undermining the process by issuing multiple trading licences to millers and marketers.

“We must stick to the interventions that we agreed on to ensure success in the reforms in the coffee sub-sector. Some counties such as Kiambu and Uasin Gishu have gone contrary to what we agreed, including issuing multiple licenses to actors in the value chain. We agreed that millers cannot be marketers; but some have been issued with the multiple licenses to mill and market coffee. Let us work together to ensure the reforms succeed,” he stated.

He spoke during the 23rd Ordinary Session of the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) meeting at the Official Residence in Karen, accompanied by top government officials.

Liquor business

On the fight against illicit brews and drug abuse, the DP said the National government intends to amend the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act to tighten control of manufacturing, distribution, sale and consumption of liquor drinks following proliferation of killer drinks.

“The government is implementing measures on curbing illicit brews, drugs and substance abuse. We are seeking your support and cooperation in this initiative. It is our proposal that the mandate of licensing bars and liquor businesses be spearheaded by the National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse (NACADA), but the mandate of revenue collection goes to County governments,” said Gachagua.

“We need your help in regulating the sale of alcohol so that every establishment is not turned into a bar. Before taking the proposed amendment to Parliament, it will be given to the Council of Governors for input. We want a sober nation for socio-economic development,” he added.

He explained that of concern to the government is the second-generation alcoholic drinks, which have not only resulted in deaths of people besides other grave socio-economic effects.

In February this year, at least 17 people in Kangai Village, Kirinyaga County, died after consuming illicit brew.

 Gachagua said the trade, consumption, and abuse of illicit alcohol, narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances now ranks as one of the five key national security threats.

“The Government is implementing a number of immediate, short and long term measures to curb this menace. The Government has adopted a national security posture in the management of this concern with a focus on how to sustainably eliminate the counterfeit and sub-standard liquor from the source,” said the Deputy President.

He added that through various leadership and regional consultative forums and technical engagements on the fight against illicit brews and drug abuse, a number of gaps have been identified.

The gaps include legislation and regulatory frameworks.

He said another gap of concern is the quality and standards leading to proliferation of counterfeits and substandard of alcohol and alcoholic drinks in the market.

Additionally, some judicial officers are detailing the process with laughable fines.

The Deputy President also asked the County Governors to set aside funds collected from licensing of bars and liquor businesses to facilitate construction of special wards in hospitals to deal with recovering alcohol and drugs addicts.

“We propose that some funds from the levies collected from bars be used to put rehabilitation centres. We persuade Counties with Level Four hospitals to create a ward for addicts to mitigate withdrawal effects. The issue of rehabilitation of the addicts is getting out of hand and private facilities are expensive,” said Gachagua. He added that the government is committed to repressing the illicit alcohol and drug supply chain in the country.

Samburu Governor Jonathan Lati Leleliti supported the Deputy President, in the proposed law amendment.

“We support the issue of NACADA taking over licensing bars and liquor businesses to save us from what we fear most. Some of the bar owners are our campaigners and would be difficult,” said Governor Leleti.

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