THE ALCOHOL DRINK CONTROL BILL: A RIGHT STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. By Mungai

When a normal drinking spree into a mourning disaster in Shauri Moyo estate a couple of months ago, where illicit brew turned into a killer brew as it claimed life’s of people and left others visually impaired signed that drastic measures were to be taken to arrest and avert a looming disaster in waiting.

The country went into a mourning period as that killer brew and the brewers were condemned, people were advised not to be lured by these cheap illicit liquors as the Government vowed to eliminate them.. The government also faced its wrath because of its hand off style and doing little to contain these illicit brews which continues to rain havoc on the poor Kenyan drinkers.

It was an agonizing and a trying moment for those who were affected as they tried to come to terms with the reality of what had transpired. And, this led to a massive crackdown on these illegal illicit brews were destroyed and unlicensed bar operators, brewers and patrons were hauled in courtrooms.

But, as the condemnation of these illicit brews continued, blamed for the deaths the Kenyan drinking culture was questioned. Kenyans are known to partake anything that calls itself alcohol even if it sis laced with poisonous chemicals which might have harmful effects.

After that fatal incident a thorough analysis was done on that killer brew in the government’s laboratories where it was concluded that the brew had been laced with poisonous industrial chemicals. It dispelled the popular moonshine drinks, namely chang’aa, busaa and other traditional drinks were not the ones which were culprit, but, it was unscrupulous dealers who had laced the drink with chemicals.

A lot of questions have been raised concerning the mushrooming of these brews despite them been packed and labeled as been certified by the government, they raise suspicion and pointing finger points to the illegal cartels who runs a ring of this illegal trade thus risking millions of people.

The government has also been questioned on why it continues to let loose these brews invade the markets which the racketeers roam Scot free although they are known in the Government’s circles. It also continues to face criticism and blame for not doing enough to protect the citizens from these money hungry cartels who pockets millions at the expense of the poor drinkers.

Consumption of these illicit brews has become an anathema in the society and a cancer to the country as an unspoken battle of sexes is rife. Women are deeply by the harm cheap liquors has caused to their sons and husbands. Youths in most parts of the country are said to have become Zombies due to consuming of these drinks. Excessive use of alcohol is a monumental national problem requiring extraordinary efforts to contain.

It is to be noted that consumption of alcohol does not create problems. It is the indiscipline that goes with excessive consumption which causes the problem.

But, now it is apparent that the fatal incidences might be a thing of the past if the president accents the Alcohol Drinks Control Bill which was passed by parliament. The bill was authored and sponsored by Naivasha Member of Parliament, John Mututho. The bill seeks to address the alcohol related issues. It is expected to bring sanity in the brewing industry. It will bring control over the production and consumption of alcohol. It is expected to save and bar underage drunks and those hooked on illegal brews.

The bill passage of the bill puts beer in the same league as cigarettes complete with a health warning. The bill bans the sale of alcohol in supermarkets and corner shops. Also popular promotions in which consumers wins prizes is to be banned. It legalizes Chang’aa, Busaa, Mnazi and other local drinks, but, they must be professionally brewed

Parliament can be applauded for going a step ahead to put the alcohol industry under the boot of regulation through sweeping laws that seeks to tame abuse. If it will be signed into law it will radically change and transform the manufacture, consumption, advertising, bar licensing, drinking hours to warning signs on beer bottles. It seeks to regulate every aspect of the alcohol business.

According to the author of the bill, Mt Mututho, he was quick to deny that Chang’aa was the culprit. The killer brews and spirits causing havoc across the country were not Chang’aa or other common illicit drinks but what he termed as “third generation” alcoholic drinks. These are legitimate and legal drinks that are rapidly replacing illicit drinks at the lower end of the market because they are legal, cheap and equally potent. He also says that some companies are selling industrial alcohol and other chemicals to those making the so called “Kumi Kumi” drinks which are responsible for the large number of deaths.

In total contrast we do appreciate the efforts or any undertaking that’s meant to reduce or eliminate these illicit brews altogether, but, will legalizing be the way out of addressing this issue?

The Jury is out on this one, but, it is a step in the right direction. It was a long overdue legislation which have come at a worst time which might be a sigh of relief to the women in Central Kenya who are crying that they have lost their men to illegal brewers. Men are no longer there as they have succumbed to the lure of illicit brews and the young men can neither marry nor sire Children. When they are there they are just figures. They are pictures. They are not men that you would really call men.

It is to be noted that Central Kenya has become the dumping ground for cheap liquors causing untold suffering especially on youths and the women says they are fighting a long battle because the number of bars seems to increase by the day. However the problem is not limited to central it is widespread phenomenon. Elsewhere these brews are associated with rampact crime.

In Conclusion, if rampact drunkenness continues ever stricter measures must be taken. The Government cannot stop people from drinking alcohol but it can teach its citizens to drink responsibly.


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