Kisumu residents are questioning the whereabouts of illicit brews impounded by various security agencies in the county as hundreds of cartons of liquor vanish without trace.
The residents say despite the continued crackdown by officers, there is little information on either destruction of the illicit alcohol or suspects being charged.
Recently, more than 400 cartons of liquor impounded by local administrators allegedly disappeared after it was taken from Bus Park and to the Kisumu Central subcounty headquarters to await charging of suspects and destruction.
The destruction of the impounded liquor was to be overseen by Nyanza regional commissioner Moffat Kangi, but the event never happened because the exhibit had disappeared mysteriously.
Deputy county ccommissioner Tom Macheneri did not respond to calls or text messages on the matter.
ACTING WITH IMPUNITY
The public has been petitioning the security organs to crack down on those selling the outlawed liquor, most of which gets into the country through the porous Busia border from Uganda. Some of the brews include simba waragi, Kitoko, Empire and coffee spiked with alcohol.
The liquor sold in sachets is common in areas such as Kisumu Bus Park, beer belt, Kamas, Mamboleo, Upper Railways, Nyamasaria and the sprawling slum areas.
Sources familiar with the ongoings in the business said the traders are so daring and are said to be enjoying state protection. Locals now want police to conduct investigations over claims that a state vehicle is being used to transport illicit brews from Kisumu Bus Park to Oyugis, Homa Bay county, and Luanda, Vihiga county.
They want the driver prosecuted for misuse of a government property.
Not long ago, an ugly incident that shocked many occurred when officers from the now disbanded Flying Squad were engaged in a gun drama at Luanda police station.
The altercation arose due to differences among officers at the station who had flagged down a Probox car, which was being escorted by the dreaded Flying Squad officers in an unmarked car.
The Probox was transporting the brews to Kisumu from Busia. It was not clear why the owners of the illicit brews well known to the public were never arraigned in court.
In Kisumu, residents say some unscrupulous businessmen brew substandard spirits that endanger the lives of consumers, while agencies mandated to check production of counterfeit products look the other way.
CHANGE IN THE AIR
Sometime back, the public sighed with relief when former Nyanza regional commissioner Francis Mutie led an operation that raided an illicit liquor den that had been operating a few metres away from Kisumu State Lodge.
This followed repeated complaints from the public that some businessmen were manufacturing substandard spirits that did not meet safety standards.
When Kangi replaced Wilson Njega, who was transferred to Central region, he held a press briefing where he promised residents he would wipe out trade and consumption of illicit brews.
Immediately after the briefing, he led various security agencies in a mop-up exercise targeting areas that had been identified as notorious in illicit trading and consumption.
The commissioner said several bar owners trading in the outlawed brews have been arrested and charged.
The move comes in the wake of a similar directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta, who recently called on security agencies to step up the war on unlicensed brews.
Nacada Nyanza regional coordinator Esther Okenye said the youth are the most vulnerable to illicit brews. She urged them to instead engage in farming and exploit their talents.
“Instead of engaging in drug abuse, our youths, who are the major players here, should focus on agriculture and exploit their talents as a source of income, instead of relying on getting white-collar jobs, which have of late become scarce in our country,” she said.
Okenye said bar operators and dealers in alcoholic substances should follow licensing procedures or risk being punished.
She said Nacada would soon embark on a crackdown on illicit liquor brewers and dealers in the region to help stamp out the menace, which she said was a hindrance to national development.