– For many that took part in these attacks it was just an excuse to get their hands on something for themselves, or someone can not control their men, but they should not other peoples life that can control their alcohol intake. And they should rather use their energy on finding the illegal brew, and try to make the illegal brew safe, and produced under controlled conditions.
– Four chiefs sacked after they were found to be involved in the trade.
– Youths take advantage of confusion to loot and destroy private property.
– Legitimate business owners condemn the operation.
The fight against illicit brews raged into the weekend with MPs and constituents raiding bars, health centres and even homes of chiefs and their assistants to destroy the alcohol.
At least four chiefs and three assistants were on Saturday facing interdiction after they were allegedly found with the alcohol in their homes.
Two chiefs from Kipipiri Constituency in Nyandarua County were shown the door following an order by County Commissioner Wilson Njega.
“I want them to surrender their uniforms with immediate effect as they are no longer serving the government. We shall sort out other administrative issues later,” said Mr Njega.
The county commissioner was reacting to concerns raised by the area MP Samuel Gichigi, who said the two were “hooked to the brew”.
And in Murang’a, a chief, became a victim of the crackdown after police allegedly found alcohol hidden in his bedroom.
Kigumo Location Chief Stephen Kihara, who runs a bar, was on Friday arrested after a team led by the area MP Jamleck Kamau were said to have found assorted brands in his house.
Murang’a county commissioner Kula Hache said: “He is a big let-down to the society and he will be interdicted, taken to court and later sacked.”
The chief said he was the plot owner but had rented out the premises to a friend.
In Lari, Kiambu County, one supplier had hidden cartons of various brands of alcohol in a laboratory of a local health centre while others had transferred them to their homes.
Area MP Mburu Kahangara, who led the crackdown accompanied by police and members of the public, stormed Uplands Health Centre, which is opposite Lari Police Station, and found the brew hidden in the laboratory.
A lady was said to have ferried the drinks to the facility with a donkey the previous night after learning about the planned raid.
In Githunguri, the team led by area MP Njoroge Baiya and MCA Karungo Thangwa found traditional brew and second generation alcohol hidden at a wholesale shop owned by a woman said to be a devout church member at Kwamaiko shopping centre.
Nyeri County Commissioner Michael Ole Tialal, while leading a crackdown in the town, said the attempts to wipe out second generation alcohol were blocked in the courtrooms when owners produced legal licences.
Nyeri Town MP Esther Murugi said MPs had gained the much needed momentum to deal with alcoholism in their areas given that the President is keeping a tab on each.
Similar crackdowns were conducted in Kieni and in Tetu.
Kieni MP Kanini Kega said that alternatives need to be immediately established to ensure that those who enjoy their drink do so in a protected environment where brewers and distillers are properly licensed and the products fit for consumption.
NOT WELL PLANNED
But the crackdown on illicit brews in Ngara, Kasarani, Mwiki, Ruai and Kayole was taken over by looters who broke into licensed bars and stole legitimate liquor.
Police had a difficult time trying to control the youths who raided the establishments.
An operator in Mwiki, Alex Nyaribari, said a group of youths broke into his shop at around 11 am and took away liquor worth Sh80,000.
Mr Nyaribari also lost lime juices, sodas, cigarettes, and fresh juice during the raid by the youth. Other businesses were also affected in the same manner with owners complaining that the crackdown was not well planned.
Kayole OCPD Ali Nuno said the operation conducted in collaboration with Kasarani MP John Njoroge Chege, the area DO, police officers drawn from the Administration and the Kenya Police Service destroyed a total of 15,000 litres of illicit brews.
In Gigiri, the OCPD, Mr Vitalis Otieno, said they had destroyed close to 7,000 litres of changaa, kang’ara and busaa. A total of 57 people have also been arrested in Makadara after they were found in possession of the alcohol.
“We also impounded a vehicle that was transporting the alcohol to the city. The vehicle and the driver are held at the Gigiri police station. He will appear in court on Monday,” Mr Otieno said.
Head of General Service Unit Joel Kitili, who was tasked to lead the operation to smoke out illicit brews in the country, said communities had helped a lot in exposing dens that produce the alcohol.
“Elected leaders have joined the crackdown and we are hopeful we will finally smoke out all the illicit brewers in the country,” he said.
Starehe MP Maina Kamanda, who led the crackdown in Ngara, Nairobi, told the Sunday Nation on Saturday that the operation had revealed that a lot of dens selling the brews were either owned or protected by police officers.
“We want them (police) transferred regularly. All those who have stayed in their work stations for more than three years must be moved,” he said.
Mr Kamanda also asked the county and national governments to ensure that the law banning bars in residential areas is upheld.
In Kirinyaga, an MP and police officers were confronted by hostile workers when they stormed Wise-Born liquor company.
Gichugu MP Njogu Barua had gone to the company on Friday evening to destroy the liquor known as Kigwa when the workers turned hostile.
The owner wept when he saw the MP and security officers, saying he had invested Sh500 million in the company.
Mr Ceasar Njagi said he was ready to face President Kenyatta and tell him that he conducted a legally established business.
“I have even constructed a Catholic Church here in my business premises where workers pray on a daily basis before they start working. The church was officially blessed and opened by Bishop Maria Wainaina,” he told the MP and the officers.
The MP told the workers and Mr Njagi that the officers would not destroy the alcohol.
In Kangemi, Nairobi, drama ensued on Saturday as residents who were destroying second generation liquor were pelted with stones by gangs said to have been hired.
A policeman shot in the air several times as the youth attempted to gain entry into a compound where cartons of the cheap spirits had been hidden inside a residential house.
One man was injured in the melee. The raid was led by nominated senator Beatrice Elachi, Kangemi Welfare Association chairperson Catherine Thiong’o and her Kangemi Women Empowerment Centre counterpart Veronica Kinyanjui. Ms Kinyanjui lamented that police left them at the mercy of the gangs, making it difficult to conduct more raids.
“We began our raid very early in the morning and found the alcohol hidden in several houses and bars but police have curiously left us alone, leaving behind only one of their colleagues to provide us with security,” she told the Sunday Nation.
UP IN FLAMES
In Gatundu South, residents accompanied by security officers and area MP Moses Kuria raided and destroyed two breweries.
Property valued at millions of shillings, including brewing equipment at Mzizi and Croton plants, went up in flames as the huge crowd destroyed thousands of litres of the brews.
Interestingly, National Authority for Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse chairman John Mututho had in April this year given the two brewers a clean bill of health and asked locals to consume their products terming them “wholesome”.
The security team led by Kiambu County Commissioner Esther Maina and area deputy county commissioner Stephen Kihara also raided the home of Mzizi beer proprietor Sarah Wanjihia and destroyed more than 4,000 litres of the brew recovered from the compound.
Here the owners of the legal breweries should sue every single participant in the raids, including police officers, and MP, as it does not belong anywhere acting out like this.
Besides most of those participating in the raids, including the police and MP, as they benefit from it themselves by illegally taking part in activities that hurts legal business.
In Thika, area MP Alice Ng’ang’a led another operation in destroying Roshan and Jaba spirits brewing plants and raiding outlets which sell second generation brews in Kiandutu, Kiganjo and Makongeni.
And in Ruiru, several people were injured during a clash between bar owners and youth who raided a number of drinking outlets at Kamakis area on the Eastern bypass on Friday.
The crackdown on manufacturers and sellers of illicit brews began on Friday in Tharaka-Nithi County with mass destruction witnessed in Maara and Tharaka sub-counties.
In Kericho, 5,000 litres of locally brewed traditional brews were destroyed on Friday and Saturday.
Kericho County Executive for Trade Philip Mason, Central Deputy County Commissioner William ole Kakimoni and Kericho West Sub-County Administration Police Commandant Moses Liech led the crackdowns.
The operation was targeted at Kericho town’s Nyagacho Estate and Chebirirbei Village in Chemamul Location in Kericho West Sub-County where illegal brews chang’aa and busaa were destroyed.