The Star (Nairobi)

9 May 2014

Kenya: Crude Alcohol Bigger Threat Than Terrorism

editorial

YESTERDAY the factory that manufactured Countryman liquor was raided.

The owner was not arrested even though it now appears that the drink was almost 100 percent methanol, and the law states that liquor should contain no methanol at all.

The bottle apparently had a Kebs sticker. It that was forged, it would be another criminal offence.

People have resorted to drinking crude spirits because keg beer has become unaffordable. Last year excise tax was reintroduced on keg beers like Senator. A safe drink popular in the village became unaffordable to wananchi.

This was a fatal combination: weak policing of small scale spirits manufacturers plus increased prices for the downmarket brands of big companies.

If this sounds like a puff for East African Breweries, remember that Nacada itself did not support excise duty on keg beer.

The way forward is clear. Remove excise duty on keg beer so that it can return to being the alcoholic beverage of choice in village bars.

And simultaneously introduce stricter monitoring of small factories producing cheap spirits for the rural market.

Government should move swiftly. More people died from crude alcohol in the last week than from all the terrorist attacks of the last 12 months - including Westgate!

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