, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 12 – The National Campaign Against Drug Abuse Authority (NACADAA) is urging President Mwai Kibaki to quickly assent to the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill, 2009 and bring some sanity into the industry.
National Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Kimani has also called for a ban on the packaging of alcoholic drinks in plastic containers and also freeze the licenses of all small scale alcohol manufacturers until their commodities were reanalysed.
She said that the number of deaths recorded this calendar year as a result of the adulterated brews was too high to ignore.
“There has to be a serious turning point in the way we deal with alcohol issues and we have to move from the boardroom and data to the real issue (the lives that are being destroyed) and decide the way forward,” she said.
Naivasha Member of Parliament John Mututho who crafted the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill alleged that corrupt brewers out to make quick money laced their drinks with second generation alcohol that was not meant for human consumption. This, he argued, was to blame for the deaths and blindness caused by the lethal drinks.
“These alcohols are meant for industrial purposes; what is called power alcohol or ‘dawa ya Mortuary’. When they do it at home they call it ‘chang’aa’ and when it comes from factories it is given all the good names like ‘Country Walker- you can never walk alone’. This is the one that has walked away with a lot of lives,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kieni Member of Parliament Nemesyus Warugongo accused the authorities including the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) of sleeping on their job.
“Each place where these drinks are brewed has a chief and his assistant, a District Officer, a District Commissioner, a counselor and an MP. How come no one knows about it until when it is too late? These drinks are sometimes made of substances used in morgues and even urine,” said Mr Warugongo.
Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization chairperson Rukiah Subow, on her part, noted that most of those who had died and lost sight to the drinks were in their prime age. She argued that the poverty and unemployment levels in the country were partly to blame for the affair.
“Those who could have been most productive for our Vision 2030 are dying. Fathers are burying their sons and we really need to rise up,” she observed.
Seperately, KEBS announced that it would in due time roll out an SMS-based reporting system aimed at stopping the production and consumption of the uncertified brews.
Acting Managing Director Joel Kioko said the alert system which was currently being piloted would allow Kenyans to report any unauthorized products to the KEBS headquarters.
He claimed that some brewers had been using fake KEBS certification stickers to hoodwink consumers into buying their illicit drinks.
“These manufacturers are like industries which easily relocate. In some of these cases it is possible that some manufacturers are operating in the residential premises and backyards and are not easy to physically locate,” he said.
KEBS however complained that legal loopholes were hampering their fight against non compliance.
“We have been doing surveillance and when we get a case we react instantly. It’s only that the arm of the law goes slow because they have to do investigations,” he said.