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State starts crackdown on drugs, illicit brew

The Interior ministry will not let the Judiciary and County governments frustrate the war against manufacture, distribution, sale and consumption of illicit alcohol, Internal Security Cabinet secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i said yesterday.

Speaking when he and his Principal secretary Dr Karanja Kibicho launched the national crackdown on illicit drugs and alcohol, the CS gave a multi-agency team that is tasked with dealing with the menace 100 days to deliver, “and leave a lasting impact that the government is determined to eradicate illicit brews and drugs.”

“As we launch the crackdown, we must carry it out with the understanding that we are creating the conducive environment for the implementation of the Big Four. We must, therefore, commit ourselves to this important national exercise and dedicate our time and resources to ensure we eliminate the vice of illicit alcohol and drugs from our community,” he added.

And Dr Kibicho accused courts of issuing unnecessary injunctions interrupting the enforcement of the law, in the process helping to shield the vice. He urged the team not to allow anybody to intimidate them. “Not even a judge should stop this exercise because it is about reclaiming a generation,” he said.

Matiang’i said part of the problem is weak legislation, adding that County government by-laws do not support the enforcement of regulations seeking to arrest the situation. The CS said alcohol consumption in the country has reached crisis levels, and in some Kenyan urban areas, it had destroyed lives that were once vibrant.

“Alcohol and drug abuse clearly stands out as enemy number one to the attainment of the President’s Big Four. In some parts of our country especially in certain urban areas of the Coastal region, the effects of alcoholism and drugs have almost decimated a whole generation,” he said.

The CS challenged the Council of Governors (CoG) to review county laws dealing with licensing and control of liquor, in order to align them with the national legal framework.

“The devolution of the licensing function to the Counties has further complicated the situation and led to the mushrooming of bars most of which are not licensed as a result of weak or non-existence of licensing committee with clear guidelines to regulate the sector,” Matiang’i.

He said being the responsible authority in issuance of Liquor Licenses, the County Governments through the CoG, have the mandate to ensure compliance of all traders of alcoholc beverages Matiang’i called on teams from the National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA), National Administration, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Ministry of Health, National Police Service (NPS), Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) and Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), to move ruthlessly and shut down any establishments that do not operate with a valid license.

“Notwithstanding a valid license to operate, any outlet found to be in contravention of any of these laws will immediately be closed,” he added. The exercise is expected to restore sanity in the communities besides eliminating illicit brews, counterfeit alcohol and non-compliant premises.

The enforcement officers were challenged not to compromise the exercise by accepting to take bribes, but hit the ground running in order to save the country’s youth from the devastating effects of alcohol and drug abuse.

Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet asked enforcement officers were challenged not to compromise the exercise by accepting to take bribes, but hit the ground running in order to save the country’s youth from the devastating effects of alcohol and drug abuse.

“Train your eye on the prize. We are aware there will be challenges ahead of you; shoddy traders ready to float money, but I appeal to you to stay the course,” said Boinett. And Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Patrick Ntutu called on sustainability of the crackdown. He said it should not be a one-off exercise but a continuous one until the war on illicit brew is won.

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