Crackdown on illicit brews after one dead and seven poisoned

At least one person was killed and seven others escaped with injuries in a major countrywide crackdown on illicit brews.

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Residents of Kayole Estate walk past a truck that was burnt by irate youth with claims that it was transporting illicit brew in Nairobi. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta this week revoked the licences of bars and other outlets selling second generation brews in Central region and gave Members of Parliament from Central region of Kenya four days to rid the region of illicit brews. The brew has seen several people die after taking it. XINHUA PHOTO – JOHN OKOYO

The seven were burnt in Nairobi after a lorry transporting methanol to a factory in Kayole estate caught fire in what police suspect was an arson attack on Thursday night.

Divisional police commander Ali Nuno said the truck had been seized by government officials at a local factory which manufactures spirits.

“The lorry was carrying the methanol seized by government officers for disposal. A group of youths volunteered to help the officials to offload chemical and boarded the lorry,” Nuno said on Saturday.

Nuno said seven of the victims were burned to death while another died after consuming the chemical. Several people are admitted to various hospitals following the incident.

One person was killed in Naivasha, about 90 km northwest of Nairobi in the crackdown.

The crackdown was ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday who also ordered cancellation of licenses for bars and other outlets selling illicit drinks across Central Kenya and called on relevant authorities to lead the crackdown.

He asked the politicians to work closely with church leaders, village elders and women leaders in the villages to clean their constituencies of the brews.

The operation started in Kiambu County in central Kenya where home brew has destroyed families, made men impotent and led to many deaths. At least 80 people were killed in the area last year.

The President also directed the lawmakers in the vast region to immediately commence a four-day campaign, starting Friday, to rid Central Kenya of the illicit liquors which have wrecked havoc among the local people.

Home brew is popular among Kenyans because it is cheap and extremely strong. Traditionally, the ingredients range from fermented corn and sorghum meal to juice from coconut and sugarcane.

President Kenyatta mandated the lawmakers and other stakeholder to move from door to door closing all outlets selling illicit drinks and destroying those in the process of manufacturing and sale the drinks.

“Nobody has a licence to kill other Kenyans. All these businesses must be closed. All county commissioners are mandated to revoke these licences and close the businesses,” Kenyatta said.

On Saturday, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) suspended 367 alcoholic beverage brands as part of the ongoing crackdown on illicit alcoholic drinks.

KEBS Managing Director Charles Ongwae said in a statement that the bureau had written to all manufacturers to stop production of Potable Spirits until they are inspected and cleared by the Inter- government-agency team.

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