A crackdown on manufacturers of illicit brews began on Friday, as police moved to enforce a directive issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Several raids were carried out in the central Kenya counties of Nyeri, Murang’a and Kirinyaga, during which thousands of litres of alcohol were destroyed and several people arrested.
Police also raided alcohol dens in Isiolo County in an early morning raid, confiscating hundreds of litres of illegal brews.
Meanwhile, an association of spirit manufacturers had called a press conference in Nairobi on Friday to condemn the destruction of property in the ongoing campaign.
The Association of Spirits Manufacturers in Kenya had sought to address the “wanton destruction of private property for political gain” and the “indefinite suspension of legitimate licences for our members”.
The association, however, did not address the press, with its chairman Francis Kiambi citing security reasons.
Kenya Police start crackdown on illegal brew in various parts of the country
In Othaya, Nyeri County, a lorry full of plastic bottles was impounded by the police in a mid-morning raid. The plastic bottles were destroyed in the town centre.
On Friday evening, Murang’a County residents destroyed and set ablaze over 2,000 bottles of low-priced, high-alcohol spirits that were seized from a depot in Kambirwa.
The visibly angry residents said it would not be business as usual in the county as the illicit brews and higher-proof drinks had rendered the youth in Murang’a “useless”.
The residents, led by the County Woman Representative Sabina Chege, added that they were following a presidential directive that any illicit brew be destroyed.
“The raid on bars is on and we are in support of the directive to reclaim the youth of Mt Kenya and will not allow the youths to drown in them anymore,” she said.
She accused manufacturers, bar owners and suppliers of greed, saying their only concern is making profit at the expense of fellow human beings.
Some of the brands seized included Kimuri and Golden Queen, and others had no labels and could be heard exploding.
Ms Wanjiru engaged Murang’a County Commissioner Kula Hache and the two county police bosses in a war of words after they stopped the public from destroying the seized alcohol, saying they were taking it to a police station as evidence.
As they were speaking, the police lorry carrying the drinks sped off, leaving a trail of dust.
It was followed by the security team, a move that infuriated the public and the county representative.
The residents mobilised themselves and matched to Murang’a Town, more than 10 kilometres away, to demand that the county commissioner’s office destroy the seized illicit drinks in their presence.
KANGARA, CHANG’AA BREWS
Meanwhile, in Isiolo, police confiscated 720 litres of kangara and 62 litres of chang’aa in an early morning raid in Bula Pesa and Waso estates.
The officers also found 18 rolls of bhang and arrested 10 suspects linked to brewing and consuming the outlawed liquor.
Isiolo Deputy County Commissioner Julius Maiyo said a campaign referred to as “Angamiza Pombe” would continue in line with President Kenyatta’s directive to all leaders countrywide to fight the menace in the next four days.
During the raid, police destroyed 15 jerricans of kangara and burnt the plastic containers.
Most of the unhygienic liquor was recovered from pit latrines and abandoned shacks in the slums.
Mr Maiyo directed chiefs and their assistants to ensure all illicit brewers were arrested and prosecuted.
He warned that chiefs whose areas would be reported as having illegal liquor would be sacked as the menace had reached alarming levels countrywide.
The Isiolo County government has also pledged to support the national government in the fight against illicit liquor.
Speaking during a security meeting at the county commissioner’s office, Deputy Governor Mohammed Guleid said money would be set aside to help police intensify the crackdown in notorious areas.