Almost two years after Kiambu County closed the Kaa Sober program that saw 5,000 alcoholics rehabilitated from the illicit brew slavery that left over ten people dead, manufacturers of the killer drinks are back to business at notorious Makwa village in Gatundu North.
Despite the government’s order for closure of bars and sale of alcohol in restaurants and eateries for 30 days to control the spread of Covid-19, illicit brew manufacturers are still in business, this time round selling openly.
According to concerned residents, the uptake of Chang’aa, bhang and other outlawed drugs in the remote village is higher since President Uhuru Kenyatta made the orders.
“Should the deadly virus attack anyone in Makwa, everyone else will be on the line either for death or infection because Chang’aa is being consumed openly and you will find the drunkards sleeping along the streets and in terraces,” said John Kamau, a resident.
Furious residents accused local authorities of laxity in fighting the brews suspecting them as beneficiaries of bribes given by the manufacturers to protect their businesses.
“The problem is largely with the administration officers raging from the assistant chiefs to the DCC. They all know about the menace but have, instead of fighting the brews been protecting the illegal business,”
They urged Cabinet Secretary in charge of Interior and Coordination of National Security Fred Okengo Matiang’i to intervene and reign in the rogue activities they termed as contrary to issued orders.
During the tenure of disgraced governor Ferdinand Waititu, 5,000 alcoholics from different villages in the entire county had been put under a yearlong rehabilitation program that saw them engage in menial works such as clearing bushes, cleaning the streets among other activities.
Their graduation from the slavery was marked with each one of them receiving Sh 20,000 to start meaningful income generating activities.
A section of Kiambu leaders opposed to Waititu’s style of leadership, accused him of allegedly misusing the money.
The initiative had however seen a gradual reduction in uptake of the outlawed substances as the alcoholics were busy working and hopeful to get a wage at the end of every week.
The sobering tales of Waititu’s Sh1b project to help 5,060 alcoholics ditch tipple has now turned upside down as many in the then program are reported to have gone back to the old days of drinking to stagger all night, Covid-19 regulations such as curfew notwithstanding.
The manufacturers are reported to be doing the business at the most interior parts of river Chania.
To get to the manufacturing dens, one is forced to go down the bushy hills of Makwa before getting to the steepest parts of river Chania.
At times, one is compelled to resort to using ropes to dive into the deep ends of the swollen river.
Speaking to People Daily on phone, Gatundu North Deputy County Commissioner Baxton Mayambi did not deny the surge in uptake of the brews.
He said that the brewers are using Chang’aa as an alternative drink after the government closed down bars.
Mayambi said that police have doubled their efforts to fight the menace and have since nabbled 20 litres of chang’aa.
“Our court system is the challenge since they are not admitting minor offences such as uptake or sale of the illegal substances. We have been left to wonder where to take the lawbreakers after arresting them. We however need to double our efforts and intelligence to counter their tricks,” he said.
He said that they were seeking partnership with National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) to institute citizens’ coalition but decried that Makwa residents, most of who benefit from the proceeds of the vice have been declining to volunteer information.