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January 16, 2019

State misses point in war on illicit brews

In the recent past, the war on illict brew has been escalated by both national and county governments.
Addressing county commissioners and police at the Kenya School of Government on Thursday, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i put a stern warning to those who are in the business of the killer alcohol and other drugs. Counties such as Kiambu and Murang’a have also been strict on bar owners. The sale and consumption of illicit brews has been a problem to most Central Kenya counties. In 2015, many people lost their lives as a result of consumption of second generation alcohol.This led to the President giving orders for a crackdown on the sale of these brews and the full implementation of “Mututho laws”.  
The law sponsored by former Naivasha MP John Mututho concentrates on sale regulations rather than the production. In my view, this is where we missed the point. We put much emphasis on when bars should be opened or closed and how many of them should operate in different locations as if it is time when one consumes beer determines whether they will die or not.The fallacy that if bars open in the evening will lower the deaths or any other health implications is untrue.   It is not expected that one will die of drinking six bottles of Guinness at 6 in the morning but they can if they drink second generation alcohol at night.
A good doctor is one that first diagnosis the patient then treats the disease he has.  In my opinion, did the wrong diagnosis when we concluded that time and Sand the bar owners or the sellers ellers are the disease. The persons that should be regulated are manufacturers. What the government is doing is waiting for a snake to come out of a hole, wait until almost its entire body has come out and hit the tail. Isn’t the government fooling its citizens? The practicality of of such a snake dying are very unlikely. It is, therefore, my view that it is the content the manufacturers put in the alcohol  that is killing our sons and daughters. Not the time they drink as we are made to believe.
Second, we need to make sure beer is consumed by the right demographic.  Largely, beer retailing at between Sh160 and Sh350 is for the rich. The poor cannot afford. This makes them go for the cheap stuff, which in some cases, is even divided further to sell at Sh50 per tot. This is also a problem because even with Sh100, one can still get his or her drink. Manufacturers should change regulate selling their products in lesser quantities than provided for.  
The  government needs goodwill to do away with illicit brew through amending Mututho laws to deal with teh emerging problems will are seeing with alcohol consumption in our communities.  Focusing on licenses does not help much.

Joseph Mwangi comments on current affairs
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