Officials from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) on Tuesday, February 6, launched a nationwide crackdown on bars selling expired alcohol.
This comes after six people succumbed while five others were left blind after allegedly consuming expired alcohol dubbed “California” in Kangai Village, Mwea in Kirinyaga County.
Relatives of the deceased stated that all the casualties were from one family, five died on the spot while the sixth person died while being ferried to the hospital.
Among those who were rendered blind by the deadly brew were four men of different ages and an elderly woman.
Crates containing alcohol bottles recovered in Meru on October 23, 2023
While detailing the cause of death and blindness, Kirinyaga Health County Executive Committee Member George Karoki stated that the alcohol consumed by the victims contained ethanol and that the patients exhibited blurred vision.
“This type of chemical can cause liver cirrhosis and other nervous system problems, including that sign where they cannot see well,” Karoki stated.
Mwea East Deputy County Commissioner Teresiah Wanjiku while commenting on the incident lamented futile efforts to curb the menace, noting that several cases which had been filed in court pertaining illegal sale of brews particularly ethanol never succeeded.
Meanwhile, the first crackdown was done in Ndeiya, Kiambu County where several people were arrested on allegations of selling uncertified, illegal drinks.
While commenting on the crackdown, NACADA Chief Executive Officer Anthony Omerikwa disclosed the crackdown would continue across the country and would be done jointly with county governments.
Omerikwa added that the multi-agency crackdown will involve verification of licensed bars and reexamination of the law to ensure there are no developments of illegal businesses in the villages.
“We will carry out a census, we will move from one establishment to another to ensure that we mop up and comb up this area. So we are around to ensure that the public is not aggrieved,” Omerikwa stated.
“We will work hand in hand with county governments to ensure everything that is required to be followed before a license is issued is indeed followed,” he added.
Dr. Anthony Omerikwa, appointed CEO of NACADA, November 2023