Nakuru slums bear brunt of alcohol-drenched families

Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah

Susan Wanjiku is a troubled young woman. As a child, she dreamt of growing up into a high-flying, blue-collar career preceded by tonnes of impressive academic credentials.

At 22, it is beginning to dawn on the Form Four-leaver that she needs to wake up and accept her stalled career progression. And she blames her agony and that of her family on her father’s addiction to illicit brew saying alcohol turned him into a zombie.

“He has never played any role in our upbringing as he was always drunk but things became worse after he chased away our mother two years ago,” she said.

Her family lives near Bondeni in Njoro, an area notorious for illicit brews. She says the proximity to a ready source of illicit brews has become a major source of their problems.

“He has stripped our home of everything he can including clothes and beds to finance the habit,” she says adding that when he can’t find ready cash market, he trades the items at the drinking dens for alcohol. “We have suffered so much but we don’t know who to turn to because the community protects these people.

There’s a group of young men which threatens people who give out information to authorities,” she adds. However, Wanjiku’s nightmare is a reality many families are finding themselves in.

Most youth have turned to cheap and adulterated second-generation liquor because they cannot afford common beer. “Beer is a waste of money for me because I will need a whole crate to get high,” John Sirma, 26, says.

Two weeks ago, a 35-year-old man died outside a chang’aa den in Ngubereti, Mogotio sending locals into a panic but despite this, the menace continues unabated. “We will not allow this to happen under our watch,” immediate former Baringo County Commissioner Peter Okwanyo said then.

Areas most notorious for illicit brews such as chang’aa include the densely slums where manufacturers have a ready market. In Nakuru, areas such as Manyani, Kaptembwa, Hill Top, Bondeni, Pipeline, and Lanet have become infamous for illegal booze.

Coming in the wake of a renewed crackdown against illicit brews, Nakuru East deputy County Commissioner Omar Salat said the war needs concerted effort from all stakeholders and cooperation from members of the public.

He regretted that matatu touts and youth manning public service termini have become conduits for the illegal business. “We have information that they are the ones encouraging this and we are warning them that their days are numbered,” he said, adding that they would spare no one in the trade.

“We will follow you wherever you hide and the best thing you can do for yourself now is to stop and surrender,” he warned. He said alcohol in small sachets, which were outlawed a few years ago, was finding its way back into the market again.

Speaking separately, Nakuru deputy governor Erick Korir said their hands are tied as the role of the county government ends at licensing. He urged the provincial administration and other security organs to ensure the public is protected from illicit brews.

He said it is the duty of other government agencies including National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (Nacada), Kenya Bureau of Standards and Kenya Revenue Authority to ensure what is sold is genuine. “Our mandate as a County stops at trade licensing.

When it comes to quality of what is being sold, that is not our duty,” he said. He said that the county will begin issuing fresh liquor permits and licenses to ensure compliance. “I urge rehabilitation centres to set aside funds for preventive measures to clear the impression that they are here for business,” he said.

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