Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru has officially enacted the Kirinyaga County Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, 2023, to safeguard public health and combat the illicit alcohol trade in the county.

This move follows a tragic incident where 17 individuals lost their lives after consuming ethanol-laced brews in Kangai and Kandongu villages, Mwea West sub-county.

Governor Waiguru emphasized the significance of this legislation during the signing ceremony held at the County Headquarters in Kutus.

She underscored that the primary aim of the Act is to establish a comprehensive framework for the licensing and regulation of all aspects of the alcoholic beverages industry within the county.

"This law is not meant to punish traders doing legitimate businesses, but to eliminate manufacture, sale, and distribution of illicit brews, counterfeit, adulterated, and sub-standard alcoholic products in the County," stated Governor Waiguru.

The Act encompasses measures to ensure fair and ethical practices in the alcoholic beverages sector.

It authorizes the establishment of alcohol treatment and rehabilitation facilities and programs for individuals struggling with addiction.

Funding for these initiatives will be derived from the County Alcoholic Drinks Control Fund, as stipulated in Section 116 of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012.

Governor Waiguru elaborated on the multifaceted role of the fund, stating, "It will help us promote responsible consumption of alcoholic drinks and mitigate the adverse effects of alcohol abuse on public health, safety, and social welfare."

Moreover, the legislation provides for the creation of a Directorate of Alcoholic Drinks Control, tasked with licensing and enforcing liquor license conditions.

This directorate will ensure effective public participation and conduct education, training, and sensitization campaigns to cultivate a responsible drinking culture.

The signing ceremony was attended by Members of the County Assembly (MCAs), including Speaker Muteti Murimi and Majority Leader Daniel Kibinga. Speaker Muteti hailed the Act as "progressive" and emphasized its potential to combat the menace of illicit brews in the county.

"In a departure from the past, inspection and monitoring of liquor outlets will be overseen by a multi-agency Sub-County Alcoholic Drinks Control Committee," noted Speaker Muteti.

The committee, chaired by the Sub-County Administrator, comprises representatives from various agencies and the public.

Under the new regulations, all liquor licenses will be subject to approval by the County Alcoholic Drinks Control Committee, which has been expanded to include officials from the County Attorney's office, the National Anti-Counterfeit Authority, Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

Importantly, members of the public have the opportunity to object to the issuance of liquor licenses to specific outlets, with grievances addressed by the Sub-County Alcoholic Drinks Control Committee.

In cases where the public interest is at stake, the county reserves the right to suspend or close premises engaged in illicit alcohol activities, ensuring due process for business owners.

With the enactment of this groundbreaking legislation, Kirinyaga County is poised to strengthen its efforts in curbing the proliferation of illicit alcohol and promoting responsible alcohol consumption, thereby safeguarding the well-being of its residents.