The law imposes strict penalties against persons found manufacturing or distributing illicit alcohol against the set rules, including a Sh2 million fine or a jail term of up to 5 years. The law also set penalties against those found selling alcohol to under-age consumers and to police officers in uniform.
Local alcohol traders are required to apply for licenses from sub-county committees and be cleared by public health officers before selling the brews. Local traders are required to sell the brew at market centres and not in residential areas as has been the norm rather than an exception.
Regrettably and as long as a steady market exists for their products, and sections of authorities are all too willing to turn a blind eye, Kenya’s illegal alcohol manufacturers will be here to stay. Sporadic raids are not long-term solution to the problem of illegal production and consumption of alcoholic drinks.
The national and county governments need to stand firm on withdrawing and or revoking licenses of all traders, who are engaged in the business producing, distributing or retailing illicit brews. A standard legislation needs to be taken up by the Council of Governors.
In this regard, we urge NACADA to urgently bring together stakeholders to address this growing challenge considering that more consumption of illicit and counterfeit drinks is anticipated as the general elections seasons sets in. After all, elections are often associated with alcohol-based hooliganism among the young people.
Consequently, we urge the government to launch investigations to identify officials involved in the business as protectors or factory owners, distributors as well as owners of illicit retail outlets. Such rogue government officials should be relieved of their duties immediately and be made to answer to the law.
Through NACADA, government needs to embark on a continuous consumer sensitization campaign to educate the consumers on the dangers of consuming unapproved/unlicensed products. By invoking provisions of Article 46(1)(b) of the Constitution which states that Consumers have the right to information necessary for them to gain full benefit from goods and services – manufacturers need to do more on consumer sensitization.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Office of the Inspector General of Police need to provide a clear strategy on how to put this matter to rest, especially now as the country heads into an electioneering period. OCPDs and OCSs need to be directed to be regularly avail information on arrests, seizures and volumes of such illicit drinks.
We urge the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to recognize that there is an urgent need to make it difficult for unscrupulous people to counterfeit the KEBS marks. KEBS will need to do more by enhancing its’ market surveillance role.
It is also important that the media fraternity offers more publicity on the consumption levels and enforcement levels against illicit, contraband and counterfeit alcoholic beverages.
That County Governments and County Security coordinators should also work closely with licensed distributors and distillers to ensure only licensed products are sold in their respective counties.
Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek)
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