By Eastern Newspaper Correspondent
The number of alcohol drinking joints stocking bad liquor in Meru is harming economic development, residents have complained.
Some of the bars licensed to sell legal alcohol had started stocking illicit liquor, compromising the health of consumers, and economic development.
They said the pubs have become a thorn in the flesh as many youths spend all the time there, instead of engagement in economic activities such as agriculture.
The number of pubs in Meru town in North Imenti Sub County and its environs is so big that the community is now asking the Meru County Alcoholic Drinks Control Board to move with speed and reduce it; otherwise, the situation will get worse.
Municipality MCA Elias Murega and Everest Rehabilitation Centre director Jasper Mutiga said the number of alcohol joints stocking both legal and illicit brews, is staggering.
Mr. Murega takes issue with the location of some of the pubs in residential areas.
“No license should be given in residential area and near schools, like in Karithilia, Kinoru, Kambakia, Karumanthi, Nkoune areas,” said Murega, asking for the closure of the pubs.
“We got no problem (with pubs) in town or central business district. The alcohol board and law enforcement officers should also check on poisonous spirits sold by some outlets or powders used to manufacture some of the drinks. Licenses held by some of the owners should be revoked,” he said.
At Githongo in Central Imenti where Mr. Mutiga has set up an office to address the challenge posed by the number of youth held captive by illicit brews, pubs open in the morning.
“You can see that the pubs are yet to open but the youth are hanging around, waiting for them to open. They cannot do without alcohol because they are addicted. The situation is getting out of hand at Githongo and Kithirune. The Mututho laws meant to regulate the consumption of legal drinks are not being implemented effectively,” Mr. Mutiga said.
He said: “When it comes to bad alcohol and drugs, the peddlers have a field at these centers,” he said, sentiments echoed by Abothoguchi West MCA Patrick Muthuri who has mobilized several demonstrations against the proliferation of the substances.
County Alcoholic Drinks Control Board CEO Mwaki Arimi and a member, Lewis Kithinji, said they had revoked licenses of at least 25 percent of bar owners who flouted various laws.
Mr. Arimi said they had also started a campaign to educate the public on the dangers posed by the substances.
Mr Kithinji said they lacked enough funds to effectively execute their mandate, and asked for a sharing of the funds collected by the national government in its fight against alcohol abuse.
“When people are arrested, arraigned and fined the funds go to the national government. Our wish is for the national and county government to share the funds on a 50 percent basis. We need money to do public education and other duties. I presented the proposal to the Building Bridges Initiative and hope it is captured,” Mr. Kithinji said.