KENYA – The national standards watchdog is set to crack the whip on irresponsible importers of methanol, the chemical used to manufacture illicit liquor that has claimed hundreds of lives in the past several months.

Industrialisation and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohammed said his ministry, through the Kenya Bureau of Standards, would release a set of strict measures to govern importation and use of methanol.

“We hope that these measures will go a long way in fighting the sale of illicit drinks,” Mr Mohammed said.

The warning comes just a day after five people died in Murang’a after consuming an alcoholic drink branded Jebel Vodka.

UDV Kenya Ltd

The brand is owned by UDV Kenya Ltd, a subsidiary of East African Breweries Ltd, but the company on Saturday said it had established that none of its genuine products was involved in the deaths.  

UDV manufactures Jebel Gold, Richot, Jebel Gin, Uganda Waragi, Bond 7, Gilbeys and Liberty. It also makes Kenya Cane, Popov, Smirnoff Vodka, Jebel Special, V&A Liqueur, Chelsea and Kane Extra.

The incident is likely to affect the sale of the company’s products as consumers take a cautionary approach.

It also provides a good example of how alcohol manufacturers have suffered poor sales after unscrupulous traders sell counterfeited drinks bearing their brand names. 

Many Kenyans have died in the past several months after consuming counterfeited alcoholic drinks. In May, over 70 lives were lost across five counties after consumption of poisonous alcohol.

Integrity of products.

Increased cases of counterfeiting of alcoholic products has forced manufacturers to invest huge amounts of money to safeguard the integrity of their products. In September, Africa Spirits Ltd said it was investing over Sh300 million to acquire non-refillable caps for its products.

Mr Mohammed said he had also instructed agencies such as Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) to pursue importers of counterfeit and illicit goods. He was speaking as he led the destruction of counterfeit products worth over Sh300 million in Athi River.

The acting chief executive officer of ACA, Dr John Akoten, said the agency had impounded counterfeit goods worth about Sh880 million since inception in 2010.

December 1, 2014;