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Government shuts down alcohol factories as fight against deadly illicit brews shifted to a higher gear

The government has closed down factories blamed for the proliferation of deadly illicit brews and announced new tough measure to combat the menace.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Prof Kithure Kindiki spelt out 25 tough measures following a high level security meeting chaired by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

He said the trade, consumption, and abuse of illicit alcohol, narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances now ranks as one of the five key national security threats, that include terrorism, banditry and livestock rustling, cultural, religious and political extremism, and climate change.

Kindiki said it was for that reason that the government had announed new measures to deal with illicit alcohol that recently killed 23 people in Kirinyaga County and scores left blind.

He announved thar all licenses and certification permits for second generation alcohol and alcoholic beverage distillers and manufacturers, issued by Kenya Revenue Authority and Kenya Bureau of Standards  stand suspended with immediate effect. 

“All existing valid licenses will be vetted afresh within twenty-one days (21) days of this directive, with premises approved to resume operations only upon receipt of fresh approval,” he said.

He said fresh license applications shall require manufacturers to have Quality Control (QC) laboratories installed with Gas Chromatography with Flame Ionization Detector (FID), and this MUST be operated by competent laboratory analyst to test incoming raw materials and finished products before releasing to the market. The laboratories should register with a provider of inter laboratory comparison and submit their QC results to the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) on monthly basis.

The new measures include;

  • All alcohol manufacturers shall henceforth establish and document all traders in their distribution chain and have procedures for ensuring full traceability from factory to the consumer of alcoholic products manufactured for sale. All alcoholic products shall include traceability information including manufacturer details, location, ingredients/content.
  • ⁠The Kenya Bureau of Standards shall ensure that within 45 days, all industrial ethanol is denatured or marked with a denaturing agent (denatonium benzoate) to prevent diversion and/or the accidental use of industrial ethanol in alcohol manufacture.
  • Any license currently issued to bars and other outlets and premises by County Governments that are contrary to the provisions of the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, especially as relates to licensing of premises within residential areas and around basic educational institutions are null and void. County Security Teams are to secure shut down and seizure of such premises with immediate effect.
  • No bars or alcoholic outlets shall be allowed to operate beyond the stipulated operation hours as provided in section 34 of the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, failure to which the operator shall be fined or imprisoned as provided by law and all the drinks, and related accessories in the premises forfeited with accompanying license withdrawal.
  • Further, and in line with the Public Ethics Act, all public officers in the enforcement/compliance chain (KRA, KEBS, ACA, Public Health, NACADA, NGAO, NPS etc) shall not own and operate a bar directly or via proxy. All public officers currently operating such premises are required to shut them down or resign from the service with immediate effect. Cross referencing of the Public Service Commission, National Police Service Commission and distinct agency staff records shall be undertaken to secure compliance thereof.
  • All landlords or premise owners shall be deemed aiders and abettors thereof and be held liable for renting out space for establishment of bars/ wines and spirits outlets in prohibited areas pursuant to section 20(c) of the Penal Code.

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