Interior PS Kibicho launches rapid crackdown on illegal liquor

Interior PS Kibicho launches rapid crackdown on illegal liquor

The national government will seek Parliament’s intervention to resolve overlaps in alcohol regulation and control between it and county administrations.

Interior Principal Secretary, Dr. Karanja Kibicho said the Government will seek amendments to Article 186 of the Constitution to ensure there is clarity of the functions and powers of national and county governments in the issuance of liquor licences.

“There is a clause in the Constitution under the devolved functions and the role of county governments in the regulation of bars and liquor businesses. There is selective misinterpretation to mean that county governments are responsible for standardization of brews.

It should be clear that standardization and licensing of liquor exportation and importation is a function of the national government,” Dr. Kibicho said.

The move comes at the backdrop of mushrooming businesses selling counterfeit and substandard alcoholic drinks on licenses issued by county governments.

The location of the outlets in estates and near learning institutions has led to claims that county governments are prioritising revenue collection at the expense of security and other considerations.

The PS was speaking in Thika when he flagged off the nationwide Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) on substance and illicit alcoholic drinks.

The month-long crackdown will target uncertified liquor, bhang and other substances whose uptake tends to register an upsurge around the election season.

Dr. Kibicho also warned that the latest crackdown will focus more on powerful and well-connected manufacturers and dealers in contraband liquor and other illicit commodities ahead of consumers as it seeks to cut off supply chains blamed on the death and life-threatening injuries to over 30,000 Kenyans.

He said, “We have seen, heard and even read about horror stories about killer brews. In the past, we have sacked some of our officers, we have even jailed several culprits, and we will continue to be ruthless. This is a national initiative that must be taken with a lot of seriousness.”

The PS urged members of the public to resist attempts to blame widespread abuse of alcohol in the country to poverty. He said evidence showed that many established traders in illicit alcohol were fairly wealthy and educated.

A response command centre has been established to collect and the data on the progress of the RRI, which will be shared in due course.

Besides the control mechanisms, regular surveillance, and penalization of criminals involved in the manufacture, distribution and sale of counterfeit and substandard alcohol, the government has reoriented its policy towards treatment, rehabilitation, and support of addicts.

The event that will be rolled out across the country was also attended by the Kiambu Deputy Governor Joyce Ngugi, Thika Town MP Patrick Wainana and Central Regional Commissioner Wilfred Nyagwanga.