The unlawful trade is robbing the country over Sh30 billion in annual revenue. This is because illicit dealers do not pay tax at all yet they shrink revenues of those who genuinely pay taxes. Simply put, the increasing numbers of illicit and illegal alcoholic beverages is a threat to human health, security and the economy.
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.