KNA Nakuru Governor Mr Lee Kinyanjui has called for legalization of traditional liquor as a way of curbing consumption of lethal illicit brews by Kenyans.
Mr Kinyanjui stated that criminalizing brewing and consumption of traditional brews had only helped the underworld illicit industry flourish where cartels and unscrupulous law enforcers collected bribes and protected manufacturers of dangerous liquors.
He challenged members of parliament to enact legislation that will guide safety standards in the manufacture and packaging of traditional liquors as a way of ensuring the wellbeing of consumers.
The governor was addressing mourners during the burial ceremony of Jacinta Wamucii Mwangi and her three children who died after a fire razed down their house, at Molo Hills Village within Subukia Sub-County.
“Isn’t it time we consider legalizing traditional brews which are part of the heritage and culture of the locals instead of losing our youth to cheap illicit liquor that affects their productivity? Most of our youth have been rendered socially and economically unproductive after seeking solace in the deadly beverages. Long before independence, natives were banned from taking beer but were allowed to make traditional brews. More than fifty years after independence, the brewing and sale of chang’aa, busaa, muratina and mnazi among other traditional liquors remain outlawed in Kenya,” he pointed out.
Mr Kinyanjui noted that neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania had legalized traditional brews adding that it was the height of irony that Kenyan bar owners stock the chang’aa equivalents from the two neighbouring countries.
He expressed optimism that a proposed statute to decriminalize traditional brews if tabled before the legislature will receive overwhelming support from the lawmakers and that the move will boost the country’s revenue collection besides bringing sanity in the local brewing industry.
The governor put on notice cartels behind the proliferation of the illicit drinks and singled out Elburgon, Molo and parts of Subukia Sub Counties as notorious hotspots. “We will flush these criminal enterprises out as we want our youth to remain focused and engaged in meaningful development. In many areas of this country the youth cannot engage in activities that can earn them an income like farming or construction work because of the illicit brews,” Mr Kinyanjui added.
During the burial ceremony the governor delivered President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Sh1 million contribution to the family and conveyed the Head of State’s condolences.
After the incident, the County administration moved and helped the family rebuild their home by providing 20 iron sheets, 10 blankets and 5 mattresses and Sh.100,000.
“We will continue to support Mr David Mwangi and his surviving children, and assist them to seek psycho-social support to overcome the trauma,” affirmed the governor.