Government mulls return of cheap beer to choke off illicit brews

The government is now seeking partnerships with liquor manufacturers to produce low-cost alcoholic drinks that have the potency the market needs, but at affordable prices.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua had hinted at this course of action on Sunday when he worshipped at Muthithi Catholic Church in Kigumo Constituency, and repeated the same on a Kameme TV talk show on Monday morning.

He said the government was in the process of negotiating with registered manufacturers to get licences to supply ‘cheap but safe potent alcoholic drinks’ that will not kill consumers.

Currently, a Nation survey has deduced that the cheapest liquor available on the market is black and brown ‘Senator Keg’, which goes for Sh90 and Sh80 respectively for about 230 millilitres measured in mugs.

Consumers who spoke to us said it takes an average of four to six mugs to feel satisfied, which translates to a budget of between Sh400 and Sh600, while low casual labour in the region fetches between Sh300 and Sh350 for eight hours a day.

Mr Gachagua said both security and market surveys have shown that there is a huge demand for low-end liquor, which the death merchants take advantage of by putting all sorts of concoctions in the market that end up ravaging the population through death.

He said the main problem was the portable liquor, which has an extremely high alcohol content and is poisonous, and called on legitimate bar owners to join hands with the government to smoke out the illegal brewers and distributors.

“The government is not against people who want to enjoy themselves by de-inking alcohol. What we do not want to see and hear about is poisonous drinks being consumed at any time. We will bring you alcohol that you can afford, but you must also consume it in a disciplined manner. There will be no alcohol earlier than 5pm and no later than 11pm,” he said.

This came even as some cultural purists insisted that the acceptance of traditional brews like muratina will help fill the void left by the effects of the ongoing crackdown.

Mr Gachagua said traditional brews should not be placed on the commercial market and their acceptance was not for the purpose of getting people drunk.

“Traditional brews should only be used to help communities perform their cultural functions and not to get people drunk,” he said.
He said the war he has launched against killer brews has yielded results as “we used to have people getting silly on a pint of Sh30 and the guzzlers going down after spending only Sh100”.

Mr Gachagua said the government will enter into concessions with the taxman to see what rebates can be extended to make the production of safe low-end liquor a reality.

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