The National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA) has called for a review of liquor licensing to address challenges in the fight against alcoholism in the country.
The NACADA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Victor Okioma said improper licensing of bars and other outlets selling alcohol was to blame for rising cases of alcohol abuse in the country.
The Alcoholic Drinks Control Act (2010) which placed licensing of bars under the county governments, he said, has seen the businesses sprout allover enhancing easy access to alcohol.
“The county governments are motivated by revenue collected from licensing fees at the expense of health and wellbeing of the people,” he said.
Addressing the media in Kisumu on Tuesday, Okioma said NACADA has engaged the inter-governmental relations committee to work on the matter which is at the heart of counties struggling to increase their revenue streams.
“We want that before an outlet is licensed to sell alcohol proper vetting must be done to determine the safety of the products,” he said.
This, he said, was critical since most of the alcoholic drinks on sale were imported into the country.
The law which prohibits establishment of bars within 300 meters from schools, he added has been flouted, adding that a crackdown has been launched to close down all the affected premises.
Another key proposal, he disclosed is vetting of bars and restaurants to ensure that they comply with the law.
“We propose issuance of a license for the restaurant first before that of a bar to ensure that the proprietor has what it takes to run the restaurant before selling alcohol,” he said.
Most of the operators, he said, hide in the restaurant business to sell alcohol during prohibited hours.
Corruption, he said was a major impediment in the fight against alcoholism and drug abuse, adding that no effort shall be spared to weed out government officials abetting the crime.
“We have arrested so many people, others are in court and this shall continue,” he said.
The NACADA Chairman, Col (Rtd) Julius Githiri said the rise in the number of bars across the country has lured thousands of youths into alcoholism.
By having bars near schools and residential areas, the age of children being exposed to alcohol has dropped to as low as four years.
He called upon teachers, parents and the church to join the fight against the vice to help save the generation.
The fight against alcoholism, he said received a major boost after Uganda recently banned the sale of alcohol in sachets.
“We are positive that the approach we have taken as East Africa shall go a long way in taming alcohol abuse in the region,” he said.
NACADA in collaboration with the county government of Kisumu and United Nations office on drugs and crime will tomorrow preside over national celebrations to mark International Day against Drug Abuse (IDADA) at Jomo Kenyatta Sports Grounds in Kisumu.
By Chris Mahandara